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British Film Directors
British Film Directors
British Film Directors
A Critical Guide
Edinburgh University Press
# Robert Shail, 2007 Edinburgh University Press Ltd 22 George Square, Edinburgh Typeset in 11 on 13 Ehrhardt by Iolaire Typesetting, and printed and bound in Great Britain by Cromwell Press, Trowbridge, Wilts A CIP record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 978 0 7486 2230 6 (hardback) ISBN 978 0 7486 2231 3 (paperback) The right of Robert Shail to be identified as author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
Contents Acknowledgements Illustrations Introduction British Film Directors British Feature Film Titles Cited vii ix 1 11 219 .
for proofreading. Many thanks to Edinburgh University Press. who acted as my research assistant on this project. and to my wife. . Lampeter for granting me research leave in which to complete this book and all of my colleagues in the Department of Film and Media for their support and patience in my absence. especially Sarah Edwards.Acknowledgements I would like to thank the University of Wales. My particular thanks go to Steve Gerrard. Cerri. Its completion was also assisted by a grant from the University’s Research Investment Fund. for their support and to the Kobal Collection for supplying the photographs used. indexing and generally putting up with me.
A./ BBC/The Kobal Collection 15 71 98 107 128 166 168 187 193 214 .Illustrations The following illustrations are provided as follows: Lindsay Anderson courtesy of: The Kobal Collection Stephen Frears courtesy of: WDR/RMF/MIDA/Diaphana/ BBC/The Kobal Collection/Moseley. Michael Powell courtesy of: Archers/London Films/ British Lion/The Kobal Collection Ken Russell courtesy of: The Kobal Collection John Schlesinger courtesy of: The Kobal Collection Michael Winterbottom courtesy of: Universal Pics Int. Melissa Alfred Hitchcock courtesy of: The Kobal Collection Derek Jarman courtesy of: The Kobal Collection David Lean courtesy of: Columbia/The Kobal Collection Sally Potter courtesy of: Working Title/Studio Canal/ Adventure Pic/The Kobal Collection/Majoli.
very few mainstream directors had been afforded anything like this status. sculptor or poet. This individual was a visionary who could impose their own personal vision on even the most mundane commercial chore and thereby transform it into a work of art. it was a term that had been applied largely to the sphere of the European modernist avant-garde.1 Roy Armes.2 In claiming full artistic status for the modern era’s most popular entertainment. Although the concept of an ‘artist’s film’ predated the Cahier critics by a good forty years.Introduction . say. A quick glance at the film pages in any of the national British broadsheet newspapers easily confirms this. A Critical History of British Cinema There is little doubt that. Alfred . The majority of reviews. a product of the young critics at the magazine Cahier du Cinema. appears to be broadly established both as a critical mode and a marketing tool. . even of mainstream commercial films. Jean Renoir or Howard Hawks. The notion of the director as the key figure in the creative process of film-making. will make specific reference to the film’s director and suggest how this film conforms or deviates from the established pattern of their work. consequently it is virtually impossible – despite the wealth of talent and occasional achievements of outstanding quality – to find a British filmmaking career that has the fullness of that of. This development in film culture might usefully be dated from the arrival of the auteur theory in the late 1950s. to the exclusion of other individuals or wider contextual factors. Prior to the appearance of the auteur theory. Such status is afforded to even first-time directors or those with little interest in the artistic possibilities of the medium. Advertisements for the latest releases will often play heavily on the director’s name and audiences are now familiar with opening credits which frequently include the claim that this is a film ‘by’ said director. in cinematic terms. either from audiences or critics. . they elevated the role of the director to become the equivalent of a painter. we are living in the age of the director.
British directors fared particularly badly from the prejudices of the Cahier critics and their followers. with little sense of the different contexts from which these varied film-makers emerged. The Cahier critics used the theory principally to reassess the work of major American directors whose output had often been neglected by cultural commentators because they plied their trade in the heathen. John Ford or Hitchcock.’4 He had obviously never seen the opening of David Lean’s Oliver Twist (1948). and from Joshua Logan to Sidney Lumet. Alfred Hitchcock. Howard Hawks. Truffaut even manages to spell McLaren’s surname incorrectly.2 introduction Hitchcock was one of the few directors whose name regularly appeared above the title. Charles Laughton and Norman McLaren. capitalist world of Hollywood.3 Here Truffaut trips from Billy Wilder to Robert Wise. the weather itself is anti-cinematic. . often seemed a matter of personal taste. . blaming an entire nation’s ‘incompatibility’ with the world of cinema on such disparate factors as ‘the English countryside. in his book-length interview with Hitchcock. Armes at least attributes the creative failings of various British film-makers in part to the nature of the production context in which they have had to struggle: ‘All the major directors of British cinema have had to find their own path between a degree of innovation which will render them unemployable and a conformist mediocrity which will deprive their work of all interest. Such attitudes are not far from the surface of Roy Armes’ survey A Critical History of British Cinema. although the manner in which they chose to assign auteur status. Few would now argue with the artistic claims they made for Orson Welles. Don Siegel and Sam Fuller were in. Truffaut dismissed the merits of British cinema with barely disguised contempt. or withhold it. The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) with no apparent awareness of his role in butchering Welles’s work on behalf of the studio that backed it.’5 Quite . The elevation of a critic’s idiosyncratic preferences to the point where they become orthodoxy is nowhere clearer than in the book The Films in My Life which collects together some of the critical writings of one of Cahier’s central figures. the subdued way of life. Franc ¸ ois Truffaut. the stolid routine . but this was as much a reflection of the fact that his name tended to guarantee a particular genre of entertainment as it was a testament to his cultural status. but John Huston was definitely out. Famously. Hitchcock is best known for his Hollywood movies. Among the directors Truffaut discusses there are just four British-born film-makers: Charles Chaplin. Laughton’s only film as a director was made in America and McLaren’s most notable achievements were in Canada. It is revealing to consider that Chaplin barely made any films in Britain. even crediting Wise with the skilful editing of Orson Welles’s.
However. It could even be argued that it has now re-emerged via the franchise system adopted by the UK Film Council. like Powell and Pressburger. This was reflected in the literature available to Armes at the time he wrote his study when monographs on British directors were few and far between.6 During the 1960s the massive injection of funding from Hollywood tended to be focused on individual directors such as Richard Lester and Tony Richardson whose more individualistic style was seen as offering the best chance of substantial box-office returns. This overview is perhaps slightly monolithic in that there have been some notable exceptions. Alexander Korda and David Puttnam. which in the 1960s embraced the auteur theory wholeheartedly. The names of companies like Rank. Appropriately.introduction 3 why such strictures don’t apply to other national cinemas remains unclear. going against the grain of the prevailing studio ethos. Notoriously. Armes’ chapter on this topic is called ‘Balcon at Ealing’ and is at some pains to indicate the ways in which Hamer and Mackendrick were able to impose some form of personal vision on their work. a good deal of this neglect is attributable to ignorance and critical prejudice on the part of some of the commentators concerned.7 Both periods were relatively buoyant in production terms . to be fair to Armes. or ‘franchises’. This operates by distributing Lottery monies to three chosen companies. could barely find any space for the work of British filmmakers in its pages. In the 1940s the ‘umbrella’ system operated by the Rank Organisation allowed some independence to directors who. were able to form their own production companies within the Rank set-up. charismatic figures have been producers such as Michael Balcon. One factor was the development in Britain of a studio production system which drew on the models established by Hollywood and which consequently tended to place considerable power in the hands of executives and line producers. he does point the reader towards. Ealing. the influential film magazine Movie. Ealing provides a particularly appropriate case study in that the work of talented directors like Robert Hamer and Alexander Mackendrick was easily overshadowed by the trademark house style which developed at Ealing under the leadership of Balcon. and clearly reflects the view that the creative future of British cinema lies in sponsoring production outfits rather than individual film-makers. there are historical factors which need to be acknowledged and which. British Lion and ABPC figure prominently in any history of the industry and some of its most productive. Sadly. This production system prevailed from the 1930s through to the economic decline of the 1970s. Critical opinion within Britain itself has certainly not helped to alleviate this neglect of British directors.
as Powell and Pressburger were to discover.8 The picture needn’t seem quite as dark as Armes painted it in 1978. Nonetheless. As a result. The influence of the theatre on British cinema will be evident enough from many of the entries in this book and has led to often repeated allegations that directors drawn from the theatre consequently lack a real cinematic sense and have been more concerned with coaxing fine performances from their actors. as Armes calls it. unsurprisingly. Armes concludes that both stylistic traditions are furthermore inherently conservative: The conservative tendency embraces both the documentary movement (which has traditionally seen its role as that of reflecting the ethos of the ruling class. has not done the director any great favours. both as a film-maker and a polemicist for a British auteur .4 introduction and this certainly led to a greater sense of self-confidence and risk-taking. not that of questioning the structures of society) and the prestige feature production which has customarily adapted its subjects from literature. It has also tended to foreground actors in both marketing strategies and in maintaining the ‘quality’ of such films. placed greater emphasis on writing and adaptation. Erik Hedling has traced the roots of an alternative tradition of British art cinema which finally emerged into the public gaze in the 1980s with the work of Derek Jarman and Peter Greenaway. documentary realism and. the dominant production mode in British cinema tended to define the director as a technician or craftsperson whose job it was to ensure the smooth transition from script to screen while conforming to the commercial requirements established by the production company concerned. ‘literary cinema’. The documentary-realist tradition can also be seen as operating with a conceptual framework designed to limit the role of the director to that of a technician tasked with recording the given nature of actuality. Literary cinema. from David Lean’s adaptations of Dickens and Anthony Asquith’s versions of Shaw and Wilde to the contemporary Heritage films of Merchant-Ivory. has. A video release of Lean’s versions of Great Expectations and Oliver Twist in the late 1980s actually packaged the tapes as if they were the original books by Dickens. A leaning toward personal creativity was often viewed with suspicion. although the highly individualistic work of filmmakers like Humphrey Jennings tends to contradict this. there is a striking paucity of stylistic experiment in both areas.9 Hedling identifies its origins as lying back in the late 1950s with the appearance of the British New Wave and specifically highlights the contribution of Lindsay Anderson. It can also be argued that the pre-eminence in British film culture of two stylistic approaches.
Powell and Dickinson among the handful of directors who he believed had achieved real artistic status. ‘arguably the most important director of the Gothic cinema in the second half of the 20th century. not least for its sheer variety. Most of these directors were also born in the UK.10 It’s not difficult to broaden this out to include other directors of the 1960s such as John Boorman and Ken Russell. whatever the state of the British film industry. It could be widened still further to encompass maverick figures who frequently found themselves at odds with the British studio system but who still managed to carve out interesting careers for themselves. In selecting these from an original list that was much. This is a book about directors whose films have largely been made in Britain. but it could also include John Baxter. keeps in business for some twenty-five years by always safely fulfilling his contract’. Many of the major directors in British cinema have been subject to substantial critical reevaluations. Its titles include obvious candidates for reconsideration like Carol Reed. The situation in the last ten years couldn’t have changed more radically. Powell and Pressburger might be at the top of such a list. none more so than Michael Powell. were born elsewhere and then came to Britain to make . but also cover directors like J. even in the face of a highly commercial. This change in critical perspective might be best illustrated by the case of Hammer’s prince of horror. If that was the case in the late 1970s it has subsequently been rectified to a considerable degree. This book attempts to bring together the work of one hundred disparate British film directors whose output is remarkable.’12 Central to this re-assessment has been a long overdue recognition that British directors are as capable of imposing a personal vision on their work. like Losey. conformist industry. The list even includes relatively obscure figures like Lance Comfort. but some. Armes suggested that a number of British directors had been neglected by film historians. in the words of Wheeler Winston Dixon. a few basic criteria were applied. Armes himself acknowledges Jennings. Alberto Cavalcanti or Thorold Dickinson among others. mainstream genre films.introduction 5 tradition. Terence Fisher. a director whom Armes dismissed as ‘a plodding and conventional director who.11 but who is recognised now as. Of course Anderson himself suggested a lineage going further back again to the films of documentarists like Humphrey Jennings. The British Film Makers series recently published by Manchester University Press is a fine example of this sea-change. as film-makers in America or France. much longer. Lee Thompson and Roy Ward Baker whose work was largely in commercial. as well as those who settled in Britain from abroad during that period like Joseph Losey and Stanley Kubrick. Cavalcanti and Roman Polanski.
The majority of the directors included have amassed a substantial body of work over a number of years. in doing this the book also reveals a number of interesting patterns which help to distinguish that culture. This accounts for the presence of Donald Cammell. Areas such as silent cinema. the comparative caution of the 1950s and the reinvigoration of the 1960s. Hence. Conversely. It is also the case that a populist genre cinema. that film-makers like Marc Evans. European connections also appear. Compiling the entries. The work of these directors helps to illustrate the rise and fall of key studios like Hammer. so that the . not just in the number of Continental directors who have based themselves in Britain. Peter Cattaneo and Antonia Bird may well find their way in. The principle intention of this book is. along with the more recent cycle of decline and restructuring since the 1970s. With a finite number of entries there have inevitably been exclusions. The influence of Hollywood often looms large as directors who struggle to survive in the austere climate of the British industry frequently find a sunnier outlook in the States. this means that some British-born directors who have completed most. it is clear enough that Roy Armes’ contention that British cinema has been dominated by two opposing traditions. Ealing. one literary. I will confess. the other based on documentary-realism. cultural and economic. The economic and creative fluctuations of the industry are evident through careers which had to negotiate the boom of the 1940s. Young filmmakers have also been rather harshly treated. only been represented by a small selection of key figures as this is all that space would allow. but also in the impact of stylistic and thematic innovations drawn from European cinema. Philip Leacock and Michael Reeves. Stephen Daldry. obviously enough. to provide a reference guide for the film enthusiast and student of British cinema to the work of one hundred directors who have made a notable contribution to British film culture. the documentary movement and animation have. but some have been included even though their output has been small because they have made a particularly distinctive contribution to the national film culture. so that only one or two who have already made quite a significant impact (such as Michael Winterbottom and Gurinder Chadha) have found their way in. horror and comedy have often been pre-eminent. emerges strongly. These are often careers in which restraints. have been the instigators for creativity and imagination. Peter Mullan. There is a great deal of new talent out there and it can only be hoped. still holds considerable weight.6 introduction some or all of their films. Patrick Kieller. However. if this volume ever reaches further editions. where crime. if not all of their work outside of the UK have consequently been excluded. Rank and Goldcrest. no Ridley Scott or Charles Chaplin.
but not vanished. Hopefully this volume will join with the others published in more recent years and help in the general reassessment of British cinema which has occurred. has largely gone. There are also recurring patterns in the career pathways of these directors. In the 1960s a new generation who had cut their teeth working in television appears. classical or popular. The careers outlined here may show recurrent patterns. then the geographical map has altered more slowly. typified by David Lean and many others. This is a pattern which has diminished. but there is much here to contradict that. followed by the generation of the 1970s. It should provide some kind of antidote to the pessimism exhibited by Roy Armes back in 1978 by showcasing the wide variety of achievements attained by British film-makers. Another feature is the fragmentation which has removed the reasonably reliable career paths which dominated until the 1950s. some of which confirm the conservatism of Britain’s film industry and cinema culture. Lindsay Anderson claimed that British cinema was dominated by London and this tends to be born out by the entries in this book. to be replaced by far more wayward progression in which the budding director must be willing to work in whatever format or medium offers the opportunity for some employment. These film-makers have shown that it is possible to produce in Britain work of genuine imagination. The natural progression from runabout to editor to director. This book is a small celebration of that achievement. whose background was in advertising. passion and cinematic fluency while still reflecting aspects of British social life familiar to audiences. such as Alan Parker and Hugh Hudson. For directors who have spent periods working outside . If career pathways have changed. More recently the world of pop music promos has fostered film-makers like Guy Ritchie. Each entry focuses on that film-maker’s career within the British industry. although the provinces do begin to appear more among directors born since the 1930s. It is noticeable just how many of the directors to emerge in the 1930s and 1940s have their background in the theatre.introduction 7 tension between conformism and subversion has been a recurring motif. frequently as struggling actors rather than directors.13 Anderson also pointed towards a middle-class bias in British cinema and this also tends to be born out. How to Use This Guide The one hundred entries in the Guide are arranged alphabetically by surname. with a striking number following a route from public school to Oxbridge and on into the industry – not an encouraging precedent for aspiring film-makers from the nonmetropolitan working class.
Defining what constitutes a British film can be exceedingly difficult. A film might be made in Britain with funding from elsewhere or perhaps the funding is British but the setting is abroad.). 1976). As an example. Notes 1. p. where any doubt occurs. Inevitably. Consequently. The career of Stanley Kubrick poses particular problems here. 1954) and reprinted in Bill Nichols (ed. along with those who would happily see his films burnt.8 introduction of the UK. the reader is likely to feel that some of the directors included didn’t warrant an entry and that other crucial names are missing. . A Critical History of British Cinema (London: Secker & Warburg. I apologise. in a volume such as this. Volume 1 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Those seeking revelations about private lives need to look elsewhere. 1978). but in much less detail than the work they have undertaken in Britain. This is a ‘critical’ guide and each entry offers some commentary on the quality of the director’s achievements. 224–37. I have adopted two guiding principles: all films which might be defined as ‘culturally’ British have been included and. Left to my own devices this book might have been three times as long. although these may be referred to in the main text. but inevitably they do appear. Each entry includes some basic biographical information. 335. just how often dates of birth or other basic pieces of factual information can vary depending on the sources used. but it is remarkable. I have tried to restrain imposing my own views too extensively. 2. suggesting key sources from which to take their studies further. 31 (January. Movies and Methods. the entry on Ken Russell hopefully reflects the views of those who relish his colourful contribution to British cinema. that portion of their career is indicated briefly. The intention has been to summarise for the reader the existing critical debates about an individual film-maker’s work. My reason is that this has mainly been to advocate the work of film-makers who remain unjustifiably neglected. no. I hope I have checked my information diligently. I have tended to err on the generous side. each filmography lists only their British feature films and does not include non-British productions or non-feature films. See Franc ¸ ois Truffaut. Any suggestions and corrections will be gratefully received. pp. Roy Armes. and frustrating. The bibliographies are intended as a starting point for the film student. If this means that I have included some films whose British credentials seem tenuous. ‘A Certain Tendency of the French Cinema’. although this is usually limited to material which has had some impact on the director’s film career. originally published in Cahiers du Cinema.
). Never Apologise: The Collected Writings of Lindsay Anderson. in Robert Murphy (ed. p. A Critical History of British Cinema. 11. ‘Only Connect: Some Aspects of the Work of Humphrey Jennings’. Never Apologise: The Collected Writings of Lindsay Anderson (London: Plexus. 3. ‘Lindsay Anderson and the Development of British Art Cinema’. 6. J. Erik Hedling. Franc ¸ ois Truffaut. 5. p. originally published in Sight and Sound (Spring. 4. The Films in my Life (London: Allen Lane. For a detailed account of the ‘American invasion’ see Alexander Walker. Lindsay Anderson. p. p. 224. See Geoffrey Macnab.introduction 3. The Encyclopedia of British Cinema (London: Methuen. Hitchcock (London: Paladin.). Hollywood. 1978). edited by Tom Maschler (1957) and reprinted in Paul Ryan (ed. 2004). originally published in Declaration. 140. ‘Get Out and Push!’. 1953) and reprinted in Paul Ryan (ed. 9 10. Armes. 2001). 7. . 252. A Critical History of British Cinema. 1993). Lindsay Anderson. Arthur Rank and the British Film Industry (London and New York: Routledge.). The British Cinema Book (London: BFI. Armes. 1980). England (London: Orion. 9. 334. Wheeler Winston Dixon’s entry for Terence Fisher in Brian McFarlane. p. 12. 2003). 2005). Franc ¸ ois Truffaut. 13. A Critical History of British Cinema. Armes. 8.
British Film Directors .
he gave a public screening at the Royal Photographic Society of his ‘animated photography’. When he came to Britain in the 1880s he was already an accomplished stills photographer (he was later to become a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society) and had considerable expertise in the whole process of making photographic prints. During the early 1890s he patented a number of photographic inventions culminating in 1896 with Britain’s first fully functioning cinematograph camera. such as The Arrest of a Pickpocket. January 1896. the Kineopticon. Robert William Paul. His inventions were central in introducing the basic apparatus of cinema. Virginia. of English parents. Acres was born on 23 July 1854 in Richmond. After parting company with Paul he made a number of films in Germany. in addition to his actuality films. as well as famously capturing Rough Sea at Dover. These films may well qualify Acres as the first news reportage cameraman in Britain. the Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Race and the Derby. In late 1894 Acres had started to work with another pioneer. Several of his films were included in Edison’s first film show in April 1896 and Acres himself arranged what is probably the first public film screening in Britain at the Lyonsdown Amateur Photographic Association in Barnet. By June 1895 they had manufactured their own camera and produced about a dozen short films together. That year he also set up the Northern Photographic Works at Hadley in order to market his films and equipment.A Birt ACRES Birt Acres was one of the key figures in the early development of cinema in Britain. including filming the opening of the Kiel Canal and Kaiser Wilhelm inspecting his troops. a firm renowned for the manufacture of photographic plates. In 1892 he became the manager of Elliott and Sons Ltd of Barnet. with Acres usually acting as cameraman. . from cameras and projectors to film stock itself. During 1896 he began to extend the range of his subjects to cover fictional comedies and dramas. whose films are landmarks in establishing a tradition for film-making in Britain. On 14 January that year. These films recorded such actuality subjects as the Henley Royal Regatta. He was also a cameraman and director of considerable significance. at almost the same time the Lumie ` res were giving their first film show in London.
Ironically Anderson’s own background could hardly have been more establishment. whether in the handful of feature films he directed or in the variety of other work (short films. in Stephen Herbert and Luke McKernan (eds). but influential. His vocal expression of these concerns made him a figurehead for the New Wave in British film-making. Acres ceased making films in 1900 to concentrate on his film developing and printing business. New Statesman and The Observer. India. agenda which argued for a cinema of social relevance. Lindsay ANDERSON In a national cinema where conformism has often been seen as a virtue. Having shot more than thirty shorts. essays and criticism) he completed. making him the first British royal to be captured on celluloid. His education took him from public school to Wadham College. He developed an idiosyncratic. while celebrating the medium’s status as an art form. His chance to put his ideas into practice came first with a series of . Acres had previously filmed the Prince of Wales in Cardiff. He gave the inaugural Royal Command Film Performance for the Prince of Wales and seventy-five other members of European royalty at Marlborough House on 21 July 1896. Who’s Who of Victorian Cinema: A Worldwide Survey (London: British Film Institute. After his death in 1918 he became a rather forgotten figure. 1996). but is now acknowledged as one of the founding fathers of British cinema. He was frequently at odds with what he saw as a moribund British film establishment and therefore became something of a champion for British cinema’s malcontents. ‘Birt Acres’. Bibliography: Richard Brown. It was here that his interest in cinema found its first expression through the magazine Sequence which he cofounded and co-edited through fourteen issues between 1947 and 1952. Anderson stands out as a true individualist. Among his later achievements is the invention of the Birtac. the son of a major-general. Throughout the 1950s he continued to write essays. documentaries. Oxford. with its backward-looking nostalgia and reliance on narrowly middle-class values. a 17.14 lindsay anderson Acres seems to have been less interested in the commercial possibilities of public film shows than other pioneers and focused more on private screenings.5 mm camera/projector which was the first designed specifically for home use. His is a maverick voice. film reviews and polemics for publications such as Sight and Sound. He was born on 17 April 1923 in Bangalore. In key essays like Get Out and Push! (1957) Anderson rails at the timidity of British film-making.
lindsay anderson 15 .
. It was five years before Anderson made his second feature film. whereas The White Bus (1966) is more substantial. Taking the students’ rebellion as a metaphor for the wider British society. coinciding as it did with the Paris uprising. winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes. it was intended as one segment of a three-part feature to be called Red. Probably his most successful film. These were made for a variety of producers including the NSPCC. abrupt jumps between colour and monochrome) and a gradual shift into fantasy. Anderson’s apparent sense of distance from the working-class lives he often captures was to become a frequent criticism of his early film-making.16 lindsay anderson documentary shorts. He finally made his feature debut in 1963 with an adaptation of David Storey’s novel This Sporting Life. as well as for the BFI. and O Dreamland (1953). The performances of Richard Harris as the former miner turned professional rugby player. He helped to organise the series of six ‘Free Cinema’ programmes shown between 1956 and 1959 at the National Film Theatre. appeared in two further films which. . White and Zero (the other parts to be directed by Tony RICHARDSON and Peter Brook) which was never released. which included some of his own shorts. (1968). O Lucky Man! (1973) uses an episodic . Mick Travis (Malcolm McDowell). the film could not have been better timed. If . Frank Machin. the Fuel Efficiency Service and the Wakefield engineering firm of Richard Sutcliffe Ltd. Everyday Except Christmas (1957) provides a semi-poetic impression of the workers in Covent Garden Market but doesn’t completely avoid patronising them. Although the film bears many hallmarks of the New Wave in its gritty depiction of lives stunted by social conditions. form a kind of ‘state of the nation’ trilogy. which offers a more overtly disparaging view of the amusement arcades of Margate and their clientele. Written by Shelagh Delaney. this scurrilous attack on the absurdities of the public school system (partially filmed at Anderson’s old school. Its elements of satire and surrealism prefigure Anderson’s second feature. The film’s central character. it also indicates Anderson’s desire to go beyond the limitations of a strictly naturalistic style. together with If . remain vividly compelling. It does this through its use of a complex flashback structure and in its concern for psychological depth. . Cheltenham College) combines an observational style with modernist techniques (Brechtian chapter headings. The Singing Lesson (1967) is a relatively minor documentary recording a class at the Warsaw Dramatic Academy. but in between came two short films. and of Rachel Roberts as his painfully repressed landlady Mrs Hammond. Three of his 1950s documentaries are of particular interest: Thursday’s Children (1953) is a sympathetic account of a school for deaf children which won him an Oscar.. .
Anderson’s intermittent film output was separated by periods of sustained work in the theatre. . Britannia Hospital (1982). Paul Sutton (ed. including succeeding Tony Richardson at the Royal Court.). but his dedication to a cinema of social relevance and visionary imagination also made him a focus for dissent. The final part of the trilogy. O Lucky Man! (1973). may be as one of the instigators for a fully fledged British art cinema. reviewing the achievements and battles which marked his career. He worked occasionally in television directing a striking version of Alan Bennett’s The Old Crowd (1979) and the Canadianbacked Glory! Glory! (1989) which satirised TV evangelism. 2004). his poetic sensibility and dislike of fashionable critical theory made him sometimes appear to be the ‘grumpy old man’ of British films. The Collected Writings (London: Plexus.). He worked a number of times with the playwright David Storey and filmed his play In Celebration in 1974 for the American Film Theatre. British Feature Films: This Sporting Life (1963). The Diaries of Lindsay Anderson (London: Methuen. Never Apologise: Lindsay Anderson.lindsay anderson 17 structure. The film’s experimental devices include the use of the same actors in various roles. . In Celebration (1974). Bette Davis and Vincent Price. musical interludes by Alan Price and the appearance of Anderson himself as the film’s own director. Anderson was accused by some on the Left of reversing his political position. His eclecticism is reflected in the breadth of his work. (1968). Anderson is a contradictory figure in British film culture. which also included occasional acting roles. as well as making a television version of Home (1972). American-made The Whales of August (1987) which showcased a range of fine performances from a cast of classic-era Hollywood stars including Lillian Gish. Lindsay Anderson: Maverick Film-Maker (London: Continuum. Here Anderson’s social critique uses the parlous state of the National Health Service as a metaphor for Britain’s decline. 1998). apart from the films themselves. Bibliography: Paul Ryan (ed. . replacing the youthful rebellion of his earlier work with middle-aged cantankerousness. 2004). His lasting legacy. His love of tradition. met with considerable critical hostility. Anderson’s last feature before his death in August 1994 was the elegiac. Britannia Hospital (1982). from a northern working-men’s club to a corporate boardroom. most notably when cast ironically as an establishment academic in Hugh HUDSON’s Chariots of Fire (1981). as Travis wanders Britain encountering corruption at every level. He is at the centre of his own ‘mockumentary’ in Is That All There Is? (1993). If . Erik Hedling.
The son of Lord (Herbert) Asquith. exhibiting a fluency of technique unusual in British cinema of the period. After attending Winchester and Balliol College. Pygmalion (1938) and French Without Tears (1939) mark a watershed in Asquith’s development. Bramble). then one of the finest exponents of this style was Anthony Asquith. ‘Puffin’ Asquith (as he was affectionately known) was born on 9 November 1902 in London. he demonstrated an eye for social observation in the comedydrama Dance Little Lady (1932) which prefigures his later work. French Without Tears is significant for first teaming Asquith with Terence Rattigan. co-directed by A.18 anthony asquith Anthony ASQUITH If British cinema has often been a literary cinema. including the soberly realist We Dive at . particularly with the derided Moscow Nights (1935). Asquith entered the industry with mundane jobs at British Instructional before making his debut as a director on Shooting Stars (1928. as well as a number of collaborations with the playwright Terence Rattigan. Although many of his early sound films are strictly within the routine studio format of the period. he went to Hollywood to learn film-making. The tasteful restraint of his approach and an unsurprising reliance on dialogue can easily obscure the fact that many of his films are also marked by an elegant craftsmanship and visual subtlety which mark them as genuinely cinematic. are expertly handled so as to give full emphasis to the wit of Shaw’s dialogue as well as to the sharpness of his class critique. Oxford. Leslie Howard. Like Hitchcock. but his career stalled. Pygmalion provides a model for theatrical adaptations of its kind. Adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s play and co-directed by its star. Asquith moved to Gaumont-British and then to London Films. Back in England. Asquith worked on German co-productions such as The Runaway Princess (1929). including Wendy Hiller as Eliza Doolittle. the master of the ‘well-made play’. the influence of expressionism is evident in the stylish thrillers Underground (1928) and A Cottage on Dartmoor (1929) in their striking imagery. His flair is already apparent in Shooting Stars which mocks the falsities of the film world by providing us with a glimpse behind the scenes in a film studio. and already shows Asquith’s adept touch in transferring Rattigan’s West End success to the screen. An outstanding cast. From the late 1920s he established himself as one of Britain’s leading film-makers. the Liberal Prime Minister. V. With the advent of sound. The major achievements of his career include benchmark adaptations of Shaw and Wilde. During the war period Asquith was recruited to aid the propaganda effort which he did with documentary shorts such as Channel Incident (1940) and fiction features.
Asquith draws touching performances from Robert Donat and Michael Redgrave and both films offer a gentle critique of middle-class England with its repressed emotions and social inequities. which was co-produced in Sweden. He takes full advantage of a marvelous cast including Dorothy Tutin. The Final Test (1953) was adapted from a television play by Rattigan and both Carrington VC (1954) and Libel (1959) are stagey courtroom dramas. In films like Pygmalion and The Importance of Being Earnest he had shown a remarkable . This period of his career is neatly closed by The Way to the Stars (1945). The Doctor’s Dilemma (1958) and The Millionairess (1960). but his cinematic skill is also apparent in the evocative use of colour. The spy thriller Cottage to Let (1941) combines propaganda with a return to the expressive visual style of his earlier films. did not get a British circuit release. Michael Redgrave and the imperious Edith Evans to provide what remains an object lesson in filming Wilde.anthony asquith 19 Dawn (1943) and the quirkily humorous The Demi-Paradise (1943). The high-water mark of Asquith’s career. Asquith foregrounds the theatricality of his material by bookending the film with shots of the audience watching the play in a theatre. the only film of this period not to have a theatrical source. but none of these films really contradicts the common view of British cinema of this period as dated and conformist. Theatrical adaptations continued to dominate Asquith’s output throughout the rest of the 1950s. The Net (1953) and Orders to Kill (1958). There were two further versions of Shaw. Asquith handles familiar material with an obvious sympathy and focuses more on the human costs of the war than on heroics. is his glorious version of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest (1952). however. are low-key spy thrillers. The VIPs (1963) and The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1964) teamed Asquith with Rattigan once again. with its unlikely pairing of Sophia Loren and Peter Sellers. Two Living. but his most flamboyant film of the period is the costume melodrama Fanny by Gaslight (1944) made for Gainsborough. One Dead (1961). In the immediate postwar years Asquith made three films which seem to distill his distinctive qualities. The film remains moving and remarkably evocative of the period. Both The Winslow Boy (1948) and The Browning Version (1951) are adapted by Rattigan from his own plays and exhibit the strengths of his writing in their clearly delineated plots and well-drawn characters. a typically understated account of the war coscripted by Rattigan and centred on life at a bomber station. His final films of the 1960s were a disappointing end to a distinguished career. but despite starry casts and glossy cinematography both films are vacuous in comparison with Asquith’s best work.
Tell England (1931. The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1964). Dance Pretty Lady (1932). The Woman in Question (1950). Pygmalion (1938. The Winslow Boy (1948). Anthony Asquith (London: Leslie Frewin. A Cottage on Dartmoor (1929). Bramble). The Net (1953). Two Living. French Without Tears (1939). documentary). he has held innumerable public offices. co-directed with Geoffrey Barkas). British Feature Films: Shooting Stars (1928. Minney. The Young Lovers (1954). Puffin Asquith: A Biography of the Hon. a post which he held from 1937 until his death from cancer in 1968. Fanny by Gaslight (1944). The Doctor’s Dilemma (1958). Underground (1928). The Demi-Paradise (1943). V. Richard (Lord) ATTENBOROUGH The influence of Richard Attenborough on British cinema spreads considerably beyond the eleven films he has directed. One Dead (1961). The Browning Version (1951). The Runaway Princess (1929). Unfinished Symphony (1934. co-directed with A. Uncensored (1942). An Evening with the Royal Ballet (1963. he made his film debut in Noe ¨ l Coward and David LEAN’s In Which We Serve (1942). Cottage to Let (1941). The Lucky Number (1933). This was the first of a series of juvenile roles playing characters who are either delinquent or cowardly or both. Moscow Nights (1935). 1973). Carrington VC (1954). Bibliography: J. co-directed with Willy Forst). Following training at RADA. The Way to the Stars (1945). It is this work upon which his reputation rests. The Importance of Being Earnest (1952). It’s not unreasonable to suggest that he has been one of the most prominent voices in debates over the development of British film-making in the last forty-five years. Apart from also being a producer and actor. R. Orders to Kill (1958). The Final Test (1953). co-directed with Leslie Howard). Freedom Radio (1940). The Millionairess (1960). cast as a nervy sailor who deserts his post. as well as demonstrating a subtle. The VIPs (1963). We Dive at Dawn (1943). The epitome of this is his unforgettable performance as Pinkie in the BOULTING Brothers’ .20 richard (lord) attenborough gift for drawing memorable performances from polished actors. understated handling of cinematic technique which favoured craftsmanship over flamboyance. Attenborough was born in Cambridge on 29 August 1923 and first made his mark in British films as an actor. His commitment to the industry was also evident in his role as President of the film trade union ACCT. Libel (1959). While the Sun Shines (1947). Quiet Wedding (1941). Guns of Darkness (1962).
but this sympathetic account of Churchill’s early years focuses on questions of personal morality and bravery rather than on Churchill’s politics. from parody to the surreal. Magic (1978). Guy Green). Attenborough’s debut as director was an adaptation of Joan Greenwood’s stage success Oh! What a Lovely War (1969). their intention was to make films of social relevance as typified by The Angry Silence (1960. The film matches its theatricality with cinematic flourishes like the final tracking shot back over the endless rows of war graves. The choice of Churchill in Young Winston (1972) might seem odd for such an overtly liberal film-maker.richard (lord) attenborough 21 adaptation of Brighton Rock (1947). A Bridge Too Far (1977) portrays the Allied attempt to secure bridges behind German lines in the Second World War. with both direction and central performance suitably overstated. Back in Britain Attenborough finally completed the film he had dreamt of directing for twenty years. notably as the murderer John Christie in 10 Rillington Place (1971). as well as veterans. and an interest in historical figures who uphold principles which. make them heroic. sometimes overloads the film’s anti-war message but captures Greenwood’s intentions. some performances are striking and the film conveys the epic scale and chaos of proceedings. The L-Shaped Room and Se´ance on a Wet Afternoon) as well as on most of the films he directed himself. He said it was his inability to shake off the public’s perception of him as a cherubic gangster that led him to a career behind the camera. is a psychological horror on the familiar theme of a ventriloquist (Anthony Hopkins) whose dummy seems all too alive. Nonetheless. which was made in America. In later roles he developed into a useful character actor. Two consistent elements have emerged in Attenborough’s films: an eye for cinematic spectacle. Greenwood incorporated period songs and reportage into an impressionistic account of the horrors of the First World War and Attenborough retains many of these elements. founding Beaver Films with Bryan FORBES in 1959. Gandhi (1982). The film showcases sufficiently more of . for Attenborough. The restaging of events for dramatic effect invited criticism from historians. Showing the influence of the New Wave. The incorporation of many styles. Attenborough was producer for FORBES on three further films in the 1960s (Whistle Down the Wind. The film depicts the persecution by his workmates of a man (played by Attenborough) who refuses to take strike action and angered some on the Left for its alleged union bashing. The film’s attempt to mix the epic with the intimate results in a degree of confusion and the roster of stars is frequently distracting. He began in production. The handling has panache. as to their accuracy.
Its doomy romanticism won few friends. focuses on Ernest Hemingway’s experiences in the First World War. and manages a reasonably balanced summation of a complex man. His following film was almost bound to pale in comparison. In Love and War (1996). which at least partly explains the critical hostility which met A Chorus Line (1985). He elicits another striking performance. bolstered by strong performances and provides another example of Attenborough’s ability to organise cinematic spectacle. this time from Anthony Hopkins. His more recent directorial entries suggest a decline. Pierce Brosnan is uncomfortably cast as a Canadian fur trapper turned conservationist who pretends to be a Native American to further his cause. recounting the story of the murdered South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko (Denzel Washington). As a consequence he has been showered with awards – in 1976 he was knighted and was made a lord in 1993. Grey Owl (1999) fared worse. finding difficulties in obtaining distribution. . His feeling for spectacle is apparent in such brilliantly staged sequences as Gandhi’s funeral procession and his skill with actors is rewarded in the performance of Ben Kingsley. Nonetheless. Attenborough’s desire to reach a wide audience led to criticisms that he had compromised the film’s political edge by portraying events through the eyes of the white reporter Donald Woods (Kevin Kline). an uncertain adaptation of the popular Broadway musical. here in the form of Biko’s funeral. The film attempts the impossible in trying to cover one of the most extraordinary twentieth-century lives. S. Lewis. in Shadowlands (1993). Vice-President and President of BAFTA and Chairman of the BFI. made in America. garnering the Oscar for Best Picture. Attenborough turned to another of his heroes in Chaplin (1992). Among his many posts he has been Governor of the National Film School. With Cry Freedom (1987) Attenborough returned to more familiar ground. the film is compelling. with Hopkins as the writer C. from Robert Downey Jr. The film shows a degree of sensitivity not always apparent in Attenborough’s work. but no one would question the director’s sincerity. It does showcase another fine performance. Attenborough has been tireless in undertaking official duties to aid his beloved film industry. This is an uncharacteristically low-key drama of loss and grief. becoming its ardent public champion. Historians again didn’t care for Attenborough’s tendency to reshape the complexities of Indian history into an audience-pleasing drama.22 richard (lord) attenborough the director’s virtues than his weaknesses to make it his most effective film. The film was an international success.
This striking debut established many of the qualities which were to distinguish Baker’s best work. noirish plot is taughtly controlled. Actor’s Director: Richard Attenborough Behind the Camera (London: Mainstream. . A Bridge Too Far (1977). a technique that was to serve him well again on A Night to Remember (1958). Grey Owl (1999). working his way up from tea-boy to runner and eventually assistant director. Young Winston (1972). Take Ten: Contemporary British Film Directors (Oxford: Oxford University Press. but the success of his Second World War submarine drama Morning Departure (1950) was to take him briefly to Hollywood. Roy Ward Baker (often credited as Roy Baker in his early films) demonstrated an assured ability to impose a distinctive style on often highly commercial material.roy ward baker 23 British Feature Films: Oh! What a Lovely War (1969). 1991). Morning Departure features a cast of stalwart heroic types (John Mills. the visual style is lean but atmospheric and there is a detailed sense of both place and time. Baker intensifies the sense of impending doom with his understated handling. he entered the industry in 1933 with Gainsborough and followed the classic industry career path. Tiger in the Smoke (1956) is a thriller marked by the same unnerving mood as The October Man. B Roy Ward BAKER In a long and remarkably varied career. Shadowlands (1993). Chaplin (1992). Baker also draws an unusually ambiguous performance from John Mills as the psychologically troubled central character who is accused of murder. Gandhi (1982). Richard ATTENBOROUGH. Nigel Patrick) trying to remain calm while faced with the possibility that they won’t be rescued from their disabled submarine. Cry Freedom (1987). The film’s complex. Born in London on 19 December 1916. Traversing familiar territory for the British war film. Much of Baker’s work over the next five years was relatively routine. During the Second World War he worked with the Army Kinematograph Unit where he met the writer and producer Eric Ambler who was to give him his first feature credit as director on The October Man (1947). Jonathan Hacker and David Price (eds). He returned to Britain in 1955 having made three American films and quickly re-established himself as a consistently reliable director of mainstream fare. Bibliography: Andy Dougan. 1994).
The influence of the New Wave and the ‘social problem’ film is apparent in the topical Flame in the Streets (1961). Painstaking authenticity and sober naturalism are the order of the day here. His appearance in skintight black leather is more than enough to turn the head of John Mills’s repressed Catholic priest. what Baker’s version lacks in CGI effects it more than makes up for in documentarystyle realism and strong characterisations. Asylum (1972). Baker helmed one of their best portmanteau collections of sting-in-the-tail short stories. making him a key figure in Britain’s Gothic film tradition. in an exciting and sympathetic manner. the film combines elements of science fiction and the occult. More fascinating is The Singer Not the Song (1960). Most memorable of his 1950s output is A Night to Remember. but which is startling both for its borrowings from the western genre and for its fairly blatant foregrounding of Dirk Bogarde as an iconic gay figure. building to a startling conclusion as ‘the devil’ rises into the sky over London. including The Avengers. Making full use of its eerie setting in the London underground. Further horror films were to follow. The darkly comic tone typical of Amicus is also apparent in his Hammer production The Anniversary (1968). Quatermass and the Pit (1967).24 roy ward baker while The One That Got Away (1957) presents the real-life story of German POW Franz Von Werra. but was a sincere attempt to address the changing ethnic structures of British society. its unique style set the seal on Baker’s . For Hammer’s rivals Amicus. The Champions and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). who repeatedly escaped from British hands. featuring a resplendent Bette Davis sporting an eye-patch and holding dominion over her quivering adult sons with a barrage of one-liners and insults. Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971) offers a bizarrely original twist on familiar material as the doctor now transforms himself into a young woman who murders prostitutes. Overshadowed by James Cameron’s Hollywood retelling of the Titanic disaster. The Vampire Lovers (1970) is one of a number of early 1970s Hammer entries which combine female vampires and lesbianism into a headily decadent brew. He also began the forays into the horror genre which were to become the distinctive feature of his later cinema work. From the early 1960s Baker began to work on television and directed a number of episodes for some of the most popular and influential adventure series of the period. The film may look dated now. a project which Baker apparently loathed. His first assignment for Hammer was the third – and most ambitious – in the Quatermass series. Grotesque and theatrical as the film is. centring on a union activist (John Mills again) who has to confront his own prejudices when his daughter wants to marry a black man. The Saint.
The Weaker Sex (1948). The Monster Club (1980). Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971). Moon Zero Two (1969). Asylum (1972). The Valiant (1962). like his Amicus films. and Minder. The House in the Square (1951). The last active years of his career were spent in television where he continued to provide a reliable hand with populist dramas such as The Flame Trees of Thika. And Now the Screaming Starts! (1973). Flame in the Streets (1961). Roy Ward Baker (Manchester: Manchester University Press. Vault of Horror (1973). His best work certainly shows that he was able to lift routine material well beyond its intrinsic merits with economy and style. Two Left Feet (1963). Scars of Dracula (1970). The Irish R. show a consistent sympathy with. the economic plight of the working class. and in such low-rent Hammer fillers as Scars of Dracula (1970). Tiger in the Smoke (1956). Highly Dangerous (1950). Morning Departure (1950). Shifts in critical taste have seen Baker’s reputation change radically from that of efficient studio craftsman to near cult status as a genre stylist. in contrast to much of the mainstream production of the period. The Singer Not the Song (1960). The cult status which these films lent him is.john baxter 25 ability to bring originality. whether voiced through the comic traditions of the music hall or in the more sober terms of social realism. Passage Home (1955). The Vampire Lovers (1970). which has guaranteed his particular place in the history of British cinema. offers a compendium of three ghoulish short stories and adopts a similarly tongue-in-cheek approach. see John HALAS John BAXTER John Baxter’s reputation as a director rests largely on the films he made during the 1930s and 1940s which. 2004). Quatermass and the Pit (1967). which farcically mixes horror with Kung Fu action. For Joy BATCHELOR. The Anniversary (1968).M. The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires (1974). however. . A Night to Remember (1958). and understanding for. Roy Ward Baker. British Feature Films: The October Man (1947). stretched to breaking point in the cheap opportunism of The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires (1974). It is this theme. Paper Orchid (1949). Baker returned for the last time to the horror genre with The Monster Club (1980) which. Jacqueline (1956). The One That Got Away (1957). wit and panache to the genre. 2000). Bibliography: Geoff Mayer. The Director’s Cut (London: Reynolds & Hearn.
which often utilise a semi-documentary style. British Feature Films: Doss House (1933). The Common Touch (1941) and The Shipbuilders (1943). grounding their realism in sharply observed settings and characters. John Baxter died in London in 1975. there are the ‘low’ comedies which draw on his love of the music hall and which feature some of the key comic talents of the period. Through his collaborations with these working-class comedians. Old Mother Riley’s Ghosts (1941) and Old Mother Riley. he produced and directed. Detective (1943). whose continuing commitment to populist comedy and socially relevant drama made him a champion of working-class culture and a potent voice for the socially deprived. John Barter. He directed Flanagan and Allen in four star vehicles. Baxter was also a prolific producer. Baxter was able to express his empathy with the downtrodden via a defiant good humour and down-to-earth bluntness. By common consent. More ambitious and politically direct are his social dramas. Dreaming (1944) and Here Comes the Sun (1945). a government-backed production venture whose first film. . the film gets as close to an openly political statement on the human consequences of the 1930s depression as censorship would allow. Arthur Askey. Theatre Royal (1943). His final film as director was the comedy western Ramsbottom Rides Again (1956) featuring another music hall stalwart. Firstly.26 john baxter Baxter was born in Kent in 1896 and worked initially as an agent and theatre manager before entering the film industry as an assistant director in 1932. the much underrated Frank Randle in When You Come Home (1947) and Arthur Lucan (in his cross-dressing guise as the grotesque ‘Old Mother Riley’) in Old Mother Riley in Society (1940). the most memorable of these is Love on the Dole (1941). He played a role in founding the National Film Finance Corporation (NFFC) in 1948 and in the 1950s became managing director of Group 3. he also produced several films directed by his former assistant Lance COMFORT. As well as acting as producer on many of his own films. having first formed his own production company in 1935 with his colleague from theatre days. Based on Ronald Gow’s stage adaptation of the popular Walter Greenwood novel. We’ll Smile Again (1942). it remained powerful enough to be an influence on the New Wave of the 1960s. Song of the Plough (1933). His social commitment and strong sense of moral conscience is also apparent in less celebrated films such as Doss House (1933). Despite some naivety. His body of work as a director can be usefully divided into distinct groups. Old Mother Riley in Business (1940). Judgment Deferred (1951). Baxter remains a somewhat unique figure of his time.
Hearts of Humanity (1936). What Would You Do. Old Mother Riley in Business (1940). and eventually became Head of Documentaries (1960–4). The Second Mate (1950). Old Mother Riley. Here Comes the Sun (1945). The Last Load (1948). When You Come Home (1947). His feature film debut came with Catch Us If You Can (1965). Three Bags Full (1949). The Common Touch: The Films of John Baxter (London: BFI. The Grand Escapade (1946). Although some of his best work belongs to American cinema. Theatre Royal (1943). an attempt to do for the Dave Clark Five what A Hard Day’s Night (1964) had done for the Beatles. Ramsbottom Rides Again (1956). Flood Tide (1934). We’ll Smile Again (1942). He joined the BBC as an assistant editor in 1955. Nothing Venture (1948). Despite the film’s derivative nature. The Academy Decides (1937). His inclination towards stylistic excess and metaphysical concerns has sometimes put him in conflict with an industry which has often preferred more conventional talents. The Dragon of Pendragon Castle (1950). Dreaming (1944). Judgment Deferred (1951). Boorman moved into television after an early career which included working as a film critic for magazines and radio. working at their documentary unit in Bristol. Stepping Toes (1938). establishing a reputation for innovation. 1989). Fortune Lane (1947). taking its young director to Hollywood where he made two striking films with the . Let the People Sing (1942).john boorman 27 Say It with Flowers (1934). Old Mother Riley in Society (1940). released in America as Having a Wild Weekend. John Boorman has become one of the most distinguished and original British film-makers of the last forty years. The Small Man (1935). Chums? (1939). Laugh It Off (1940). Talking Feet (1937). Love on the Dole (1941). Birds of a Feather (1935). it already possessed a form of quest narrative which Boorman was to return to repeatedly. Song of the Road (1937). Secret Journey (1939). his darkly romantic sensibility and fascination with the power of myth can be claimed as distinctly national tendencies. The Common Touch (1941). The film was a success in America. Detective (1943). Bibliography: Geoff Brown with Tony Aldgate. Men of Yesterday (1936). Jimmy Boy (1935). A Real Bloke (1935). John BOORMAN Among the first generation of British film directors to emerge from television. Lest We Forget (1934). as well as offering a surprisingly disenchanted view of Swinging Britain. Crook’s Tour (1940). Shipbuilders (1943). Kentucky Minstrels (1934). Old Mother Riley’s Ghosts (1941). Music Hall (1934). Born in Shepperton on 18 January 1933.
which pleased neither horror genre fans nor those who valued Boorman as an artistic film-maker. He was on firmer ground with his next two British ventures. The film shows Boorman’s characteristic concern with outsiders and won him the Best Director award at Cannes. Between these two films he made the big budget international film The Emerald Forest (1985) which explores similar themes in its depiction of youthful innocence and the power of environment. It presents a series of beautifully realised tableaux which bring to life an imagined Pre-Raphaelite idyll where characters such as Nicol Williamson’s wonderfully eccentric Merlin are mystically attuned to their environment. Where the Heart Is (1990). The film’s tendency towards sentimentality is offset by its warmth and by Boorman’s eye for surreal detail.28 john boorman American star Lee Marvin: the stylised thriller Point Blank (1967) and the anti-war parable Hell in the Pacific (1968). a further treatise on the brutality lying just beneath the civilised veneer of society. Here the Amazonian rainforest replaces medieval England as a place of mystical enchantment. Hope and Glory (1987) evokes another vanished world in its nostalgic vision of Boorman’s childhood growing up during the Blitz. starting a pattern of moving between America and Britain that has continued throughout his career. Back again in Hollywood he made his most celebrated film. both of which give full expression to his romanticism. Both films show a concern with existential themes of humanity’s inner violence. Boorman’s ability to combine the intellectual with the commercial was some way wide of the mark in his next American film. It stars Marcello Mastroianni as an exiled European aristocrat living in London who is pulled out of his isolation by the plight of the community around him. but difficulties with financing led to the film being shot in New York with American backing. Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977). Excalibur (1981) is a bloody. but the film’s quirkiness proved too much for some audiences and critics. visually arresting adaptation of the Arthurian legends. Boorman returned to Britain for Leo the Last (1969). Boorman’s battles with studio executives over the making of the film were chronicled in his 1985 book Money into Light. The following years saw only the release of two . social elite of the future. as well as an interest in formal experimentation through fragmented narrative and visual ambiguity. Returning to Britain. was meant to be set in London. a family drama with strong personal resonances for Boorman. he made the idiosyncratic science-fantasy Zardoz (1973). Deliverance (1972). Boorman’s highly personal dystopian vision shows the self-belief of a genuine auteur. where Sean Connery finds himself pitted against a coldly repressed. and repressive.
john boorman 29 short films. Country of My Skull (2004). Both attest to his liberal political sympathies. set in postapartheid South Africa. distancing the audience from its erstwhile hero through a fractured narrative and the use of black and white. the autobiographical I Dreamt I Woke Up (1991). along with his willingness to make full use of the formal possibilities of the medium. Hope and Glory (1987). Boorman was appointed Chairman of the Board of the National Film Studios of Ireland in 1975 and was a member of the Irish Film Board from 1980 to 1982. He was executive producer on Neil JORDAN’s debut Angel (1982). including a British Film Academy Fellowship in 2004. Adventures of a Suburban Boy (London: Faber. John . originally commissioned by the BBC. Boorman’s next feature was the Hollywood production Beyond Rangoon (1995). The General (1998). Boorman’s consistent fascination with mythic journeys into the dark heart of human experience. Bibliography: John Boorman. In telling the story of the gangster Martin Cahill (Brendan Gleeson) the film has a similar tone to Point Blank. Having moved to Ireland in the mid-1970s. place him among the most distinctive. creative British directors of his generation. filmed as one section of the compendium film Picture Windows and made for American television. Boorman’s most recent work has had a more international flavour. The Emerald Forest (1985). Excaliber (1981). with the Americanbacked The Tailor of Panama (2001) featuring Pierce Brosnan cast against his James Bond persona in a coolly humorous adaptation of John Le Carre ´ ’s spy novel. which again dealt with the role of outsiders faced with a disorienting environment. and Two Nudes Bathing (1995). and Country of My Skull (2004). Oscar nominations for Deliverance and Hope and Glory and a Best Director award at Cannes for The General. The General (1998) was shot in Ireland and is the best of Boorman’s more recent work. 2003). He also contributed to Lumie`re et Compagnie (1996) in which leading international directors were asked to shoot a short sequence using only the kind of early camera operated by the Lumie ` re Brothers. Leo the Last (1969). Michel Ciment (translated by Gilbert Adair). Lee Marvin: A Personal Portrait by John Boorman (1998). In a career that has zigzagged between Britain and America. Zardoz (1973). Boorman has been the recipient of innumerable awards. but still presenting him as something of an outlaw hero. set amid the political turmoil of contemporary Burma. British Feature Films: Catch Us If You Can (1965). This affection for renegade figures is also apparent in his warmly appreciative documentary about his friend Lee Marvin.
adapted from Graham Greene’s novel and featuring Richard Attenborough as the young gangster Pinkie. Prominent among them is the thirty-six year partnership of twin brothers John and Roy Boulting. Fame is the Spur (1947) deals evenhandedly with the disillusioning of a working-class Labour politician. They usually alternated roles. Within a crime genre format. but maintained sufficient consistency across their work together for each release to be recognised as a ‘Boulting Brothers’ film. Always highly independent. A sense of social commitment was frequently the distinguishing feature of their films. retaining his concern for the nature of good and evil. Thunder Rock (1942) had a similar political theme. the film is largely faithful to Greene’s Catholic sensibility. John Boorman. it depicts a seedy Britain of race tracks. it adopted a stylised visual approach perfectly suited to its anti-isolationist allegory. with one brother producing while the other directed. again played by Michael Redgrave. Despite an ending softened from the book. John and Roy BOULTING British cinema has produced an unusually high number of writer/ director/producer teams. Money into Light: The Emerald Forest: A Diary (London: Faber. Following the war. Set in a lighthouse where Michael Redgrave tries unsuccessfully to escape the modern world. they produced a series of striking films dealing with the social unease and dislocation of postwar Britain. whether in the sober realism of their early work or in the broad satire of their popular 1950s comedies. including the Oscarwinning Desert Victory (1943). Topical issues abound in their films of this period. a powerful drama focusing on a German village pastor who dies resisting the rise of the Nazis. Both film-makers were enlisted to help the war effort. The Guinea Pig (1948) examines the persistence of class prejudice in postwar Britain with its story of the first working-class boy (Richard Attenborough) to win a . they established their own production company.30 john and roy boulting Boorman (London: Faber. in 1937. After making a number of short supporting features. Their left-leaning views were quickly apparent when John joined the International Brigade supporting the Republicans in Spain. Most memorable of these is Brighton Rock (1947). The brothers were born at Bray in Buckinghamshire on 21 December 1913. public houses and extortion rackets with atmospheric skill. their breakthrough came with Pastor Hall (1940). John joining the RAF Film Unit where he made the drama-documentary Journey Together (1945) and Roy working for the Army Film Unit where he made a number of outstanding documentaries. Charter Films. 1986). 1985).
Targets include higher education in Lucky Jim (1957). trade unions and management in I’m All Right Jack (1959). the Anglican Church in Heaven’s Above! (1963) and. it is the stark. which was made for the Festival of Britain. Hard Battles (1973). Less sympathetic critics have also pointed to the rather conventional soft centre at the heart of these satires. The comic performances from Peter Sellers and Terry-Thomas are immensely appealing. An increasing heavy-handedness was apparent in the controversial psycho-thriller Twisted Nerve (1968). They were often able to marry popular genre elements with a social message. Rotten to the Core (1965) was a fairly routine crime comedy and The Family Way (1966) an over-blown adaptation of Bill Naughton’s play. including the service comedy Seagulls over Sorrento (1954). the legal system in Brothers in Law (1957). It is the group of social satires the Boultings made in the late 1950s and early 1960s on which their popular reputation rests. The most interesting film of this period is John’s The Magic Box (1951). the modish comedy There’s a Girl in My Soup (1970) and the crude farce Soft Beds. as well as to a surprisingly reactionary streak evident in the anti-union bias of I’m All Right Jack. Using a format of broad farce and a plot structure which frequently places an innocent (usually played by Ian Carmichael) into the complexities of an arcane British institution. expressionist films of the late 1940s. but Robert Donat managed to extract considerable pathos from depicting the tragic decline of film pioneer William Friese-Greene. It was an undistinguished end to what had been an often impressive and influential career. and the films tapped into the mood which led to the ‘satire boom’ of the early 1960s. (1958). The Boultings’ reputation . The Boultings seemed to lose their affinity with the mood of audiences in the 1960s and their later work shows a marked decline. with their strong political undercurrents. the army in Private’s Progress (1956). it feels rather like a vaudeville spectacular. In retrospect. so that Seven Days to Noon (1950) is a taught thriller which deals with the burgeoning anxieties of the nuclear age. or American films such as Run for the Sun (1956). the Foreign Office in Carlton-Browne of the F. With stars cast in every role. a rare example of the two working apart.john and roy boulting 31 scholarship to an elite public school. dated aspects of British life before the revolution of the 1960s arrived. The distinctive engagement with contemporary concerns which marked their work of the late 1940s seemed to dissipate in the mid1950s as they made a number of rather bland British-based films for Hollywood companies. most famously.O. which impress more than the slightly ineffectual satires of the 1950s. the films take pretty wide potshots at the more archaic.
An Autobiography of British Cinema (London: Methuen. (1958).32 muriel box suffered considerable neglect. Jointly directed – Seven Days to Noon (1950). Muriel BOX In a male-dominated industry. John died of cancer on 17 June 1985 at Sunningdale and was followed by his brother Roy on 5 November 2001 at Oxford. particularly during their declining years. Suspect (1960). Muriel Box stands out as one of the few women to have sustained a career as a feature film director. Born Muriel Baker in New Malden on the edge of London. 2000). Seagulls over Sorrento (1954). A French Mistress (1960). Happy Is the Bride (1957). They moved into independent feature production at Riverside Studios in 1943 and scored an enormous commercial success with The Seventh Veil (1945) which won them both an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. The Family Way: The Boulting Brothers and British Film Culture (Trowbridge: Flicks Books. but has recently seen a more sustained attempt to reassess the importance of their work as film-makers who always tried to make socially relevant films. Tim O’Sullivan and Paul Wells (eds). Soft Beds. Trunk Crime (1939). Inquest (1939). British Feature Films: John as director – Journey Together (1945). When . she entered the industry in 1928 as a typist at British Instructional Films and followed a typical career path for many women in the industry at that time. Consider Your Verdict (1938). also of cancer. Rotten to the Core (1965). Pastor Hall (1940). Josephine and Men (1955). Carlton-Browne of the F. In 1935 she married the playwright Sydney Box and they became an accomplished professional team.O. High Treason (1951). Lucky Jim (1957). Single-Handed (1953). Roy as director – Ripe Earth (1938). 1977). The Family Way (1966). The Landlady (1938). Heaven’s Above! (1963). Seeing Stars (1938). Fame Is the Spur (1947). moving on to work as a continuity girl and then script editor. during the Second World War. Verity Films. initially writing many short plays together and then making documentary shorts for Sydney’s company. Twisted Nerve (1968). Thunder Rock (1942). Private’s Progress (1956). The Magic Box (1951). Brighton Rock (1947). The Guinea Pig (1948). Brothers in Law (1957). There’s a Girl in My Soup (1970). Bibliography: Alan Burton. Hard Battles (1973). Brian McFarlane. I’m All Right Jack (1959). 22 September 1905.
Although she had first directed while at Verity. Whatever aesthetic limitations may be apparent in the films she directed. her own personal favourite among her films. acerbic eye. Femina Books. but later feminist writers have found much to admire.muriel box 33 Sydney took over as head at Gainsborough. This Other Eden (1959). Over the next twelve years she directed more than a dozen feature films. The courage that she showed in her professional life. and her adaptation of Somerset Maugham’s The Beachcomber (1954) with Glynis Johns. Rattle of a Simple Man (1964). with a tendency towards foregrounding relationships and viewing the battle between the sexes with an unsentimental. she abandoned film-making. The Truth About Women (1957). This is most obvious in the satirical Simon and Laura (1955) which dismantles the false notions about marriage perpetrated by early television soap operas. The Beachcomber (1954). Strong women are at the centre of both Street Corner (1953). Following the poor reception for Rattle of a Simple Man and her separation from Sydney. Contemporary (largely male) critics tended to be dismissive and condescending towards her work. Muriel ran Gainsborough’s script department. Simon and Laura (1955). is also apparent in her willingness to confront controversial issues. her feature debut came with The Happy Family (1952). with his sister Betty overseeing production at their Islington studio. The Truth About Women (1957). Bibliography: Caroline Merz. To Dorothy a Son (1954). ‘The Tension of Genre: Wendy Toye . British Feature Films: The Happy Family (1952). She continued to write novels and established the publishing company. Street Corner (1953). A Passionate Stranger (1957). where she frequently encountered chauvinist hostility. She died in London on 18 May 1991. making her Britain’s most prolific female director. the content of her films was often striking. Although sometimes lacking in obvious visual flair and often reliant on adaptations of stage work. The Piper’s Tune (1962). and Rattle of a Simple Man (1964) are comedies which address the frustrated ambitions of women protagonists. she created a distinctive body of work and provided a model of achievement for future generations of women directors like Sally POTTER and Lynne RAMSEY. although she never ceased to be an active spokesperson for the rights of women working in the industry. Eyewitness (1956). Subway in the Sky (1959). such as teenage abortion in Too Young to Love (1960). Too Young to Love (1960). which celebrates the achievements of women police officers in a semi-documentary style.
in Wheeler Winston Dixon (ed. Boyle made his feature-film debut with the stylish. Making excellent use of its Edinburgh locations. Teamed for the first time with producer Andrew Macdonald and writer John Hodge. but some critics found more than a whiff of Thatcherism in its celebration of self-interest.34 danny boyle and Muriel Box’. Trainspotting (1996). not least in the sequence when Renton (Ewan McGregor) is forced to dive into a toilet bowl in a filthy public convenience to retrieve his drugs and then finds himself swimming in an imaginary blue sea. the film is at pains to show both the agony and the ecstasy of the heroin user’s lifestyle. 1900–1992 (Albany. Boyle moved from the theatre (he was Artistic Director at the Royal Court 1982–7) to television in the late 1980s where he directed a range of projects from the popular Inspector Morse to the strikingly original BBC serial Mr Wroe’s Virgins (1993) with Jonathan Pryce. Boyle’s considerable visual panache is apparent in the opening sequences as his camera takes a dizzying ride round Edinburgh’s Georgian streets and there is a real freshness in the acting of his young cast. Danny BOYLE Few contemporary British film-makers have made a more dynamic impact on the cultural scene than Danny Boyle did with his second feature. Muriel Box. neatly caught in a montage where they systematically humiliate applicants for the vacant room in their flat. helped in no small part by shrewd marketing and an outstanding soundtrack. this time opposite Cameron Diaz. as well as a tendency to evade the genuine realities of its subject matter through humour and visual inventiveness. Neither this or The Beach (2000). Odd Woman Out (London: Leslie Frewin. The opening images of Ewan McGregor running full-tilt towards the audience to the pulsating musical accompaniment of Iggy Pop seemed to mirror the energy which Boyle and his team brought to a newly buoyant industry in the mid-1990s. Adapted from Irvine Welsh’s novel. even if their greed and smugness. the film unfolds a classically dark story of cross and doublecross as three yuppyish friends fall out over the suitcase full of cash which a now dead lodger has conveniently left in their flat. Born in Manchester on 20 October 1956. brutal thriller Shallow Grave (1994). Trainspotting is undoubtedly one of the key British films of the 1990s. makes them less than sympathetic. along with its non-judgmental view of the drug subculture. 1994).). 1974). The film’s success took Boyle to America where he made A Life Less Ordinary (1997). NY: State University of New York Press. a romantic comedy again starring Ewan McGregor. an . The film freely mixes elements of realism with overt fantasy. Young audiences responded to the film’s energy and wit. Re-Viewing British Cinema.
Trainspotting (1996). He had already had West End theatre success acting in Another Country (1982) and appeared in a number of television projects. A pleasing commitment to less ostentatious. Alien Love Triangle started life as a thirty-minute episode in a threepart portmanteau film. homegrown projects is also evident in his taking the role of producer on the Welsh Trainspotting. which imagines a Britain decimated by a mystery virus. an angsty horror film in the mode of George A. 28 Days Later (2002). the Swansea-set Twin Town (1997) and on Alan Clark’s memorable Northern Ireland television film Elephant (1989). Rather in the mould of a traditional actor-manager. Romero’s zombie shockers. He trained as an actor at RADA where he won the Bancroft Award and was the RSC’s youngest ever Henry V at just 23. the film is a deal better than its production history might suggest. Kenneth Branagh has a place in British cinema history for his unswerving commitment to reviving Shakespeare on film and in trying to bring his work to a wider audience. most notably the popular series . British Feature Films: Shallow Grave (1994). Boyle doesn’t appear to have enjoyed the experience of helming a Hollywood blockbuster and his next two projects were small-scale productions for the BBC.kenneth branagh 35 adaptation of Alex Garland’s novel turned into a vehicle for heart-throb Leonardo Di Caprio. but in the end John Hodge’s script provided enough for a full feature. The zest and invention in Boyle’s work should mean that he remains a lively talent to watch in the future. learning some lessons about altruism along the way which wouldn’t have gone amiss on Shallow Grave’s protagonists. Millions (2004). Vacuuming Completely Nude in Paradise (2001) and Strumpet (2001). In complete contrast. both written by Jim Cartwright. Alien Love Triangle (2002). reminiscent of Day of the Triffids. Branagh’s standing rests equally on his career as an actor as it does as a director. The opening scenes. A modest enough science-fiction comedy featuring Kenneth BRANAGH and Courtenay Cox. Something nearer to a full return to form is apparent in 28 Days Later (2002). create real tension in their depiction of an eerily empty London. showed anything like the conviction of their two previous British films. Kenneth BRANAGH If for nothing else. with the two roles frequently dovetailing. He was born to a working-class Belfast family on 10 December 1960 and during his childhood moved with them to Reading. Millions (2004) is a children’s entertainment whose story unfolds like a benign version of Shallow Grave as two young boys find themselves with only a week to spend the loot from a robbery which they have discovered.
His film version of Henry V (1989) established a pattern for much of his subsequent work. The film is visually striking. including such Hollywood luminaries as Keanu Reeves and Denzel Washington. but this doesn’t detract from the energy and panache which Branagh brings to his subject. with John Gielgud as an actor recalling a life devoted to the theatre. In the Bleak Midwinter (1995) returned Branagh to a theatrical setting with its story of an amateur production of Hamlet. a rather smug ensemble piece about a group of thirty-something friends gathering for a reunion. imagining the play as a 1930s Hollywood musical complete with song and dance numbers and slapstick humour. with Branagh directing. although consistent to form the cast is littered with Hollywood notables from Charlton Heston to Robin Williams. Swan Song (1992). His cast copes rather unevenly with the variety of demands the film makes on them. didn’t replicate the broad appeal of his earlier Shakespeare films. but its air of understatement lends it considerable charm. For Much Ado About Nothing (1993) he keeps the audience happy with a starry cast. a heavy-handed adaptation of the familiar story which. and by emphasising the vulnerability of the warrior king as much as his strength. The play is treated as light romantic comedy. particularly for the mudcaked battle scenes. Emma Thompson. The film is untypically low key. Branagh retains every line of verse in this four-hour version and sets it during the Franco-Prussian War. He succeeded admirably in his objective of broadening the play’s popular appeal as evidenced by its comparative box-office success and positive critical reception. His own version of Hamlet (1996). with Branagh playing on the press coverage of his marriage by appearing opposite his then wife. Here his strategy takes the form of adopting a semi-realist tone. He took a much freer hand with Love’s Labour’s Lost (2000). Eschewing the temptation to soften the play for a more commercial audience. despite a sympathetic performance from Robert De Niro as the creature. and Peter’s Friends (1992). He formed the Renaissance Theatre Company in 1987 bringing together an ensemble including Richard Briers and Derek Jacobi who would go on to appear in his films. Branagh’s fondness for rushing camerawork is much in evidence in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994). The inevitable comparisons to Laurence OLIVIER are hard to . his American directing debut with Dead Again (1991). taking the lead role and adapting the text himself. is his most ambitious project to date. a noirish pastiche of 1940s Hollywood crime melodramas again featuring himself and Emma Thompson. by contrast.36 kenneth branagh Fortunes of War (1987). Between these films he made a touching short. particularly in its set designs and in Branagh’s own physical appearance. and through its sun-drenched Tuscany locations.
Beginning (London: Chatto & Windus. although no less confrontational. His first short documentary. 2005). he directly intervenes. Bibliography: Mark White. From 1976 Broomfield began to work with the American documentarist Joan Churchill. Kenneth Branagh. Whereas documentarists once sought objectivity. Hamlet (1996). Juvenile Liaison (1975) landed him in the first of many controversies. Its shocking depiction of two police officers and their harsh treatment of young offenders led to . Nick BROOMFIELD Nick Broomfield is one of a new generation of film-makers who have transformed audience expectations of the documentary form. including himself within the frame virtually as a character in his own films. was made while he was still a student. a kind of sequel to Who Cares? The latter won him the John Grierson Award. In the Bleak Midwinter (1995). 1989). Broomfield moved to a more observational. mode. He studied law at Cardiff University and then political science at Essex. portrayed with some sympathy. Both have taken a distinctly personal approach to filming Shakespeare and if Olivier’s methods were rather more stately and theatrical. Broomfield openly takes sides.nick broomfield 37 avoid and in any case seem justified considering the degree to which Branagh has sometimes wilfully followed in his footsteps. Much Ado About Nothing (1993). Love’s Labour’s Lost (2000). Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994). His previous work had been built on his personal affinity for his subjects. The film’s success took him to the National Film School where he made Proud to Be British (1973) and Behind the Rent Strike (1974). Who Cares? (1971). Peter’s Friends (1992). then Branagh’s has been a more populist line. With financial support from the BFI and filming on a wind-up Bolex camera. Broomfield was born in London on 30 January 1948. Working with Churchill. the first of many subsequent international prizes. His confrontational approach often uses humour to engage and entertain the viewer and he is frequently drawn to controversial subject matter. Although his films have been successful. British Feature Films: Henry V (1989). bringing a muscular brashness to material often treated more reverentially. Kenneth Branagh: A Life (London: Faber. they have also provoked criticism from those who accuse him of being more interested in himself than the subject at hand. Broomfield depicts a working-class community in Liverpool threatened by slum clearance. Rather than remove himself from the picture.
2000).38 nick broomfield complaints from the police and the withdrawal of the film by its backers. Perhaps as a result. Broomfield. Chicken Ranch (1983). a comedy of misdeeds in high places. bringing into focus debates about objectivity and the status of the film-maker as a celebrity in their own right. creating an on-screen persona as a slightly bemused. The Leader. violence is at the centre of Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer (1992) and its sequel Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (2003). Broomfield began to develop a more overtly interventionist style. British Feature Films: Juvenile Liaison (1975. A number of influential documentarist have argued that only by placing the film-maker themselves in front of the camera can a degree of transparency be achieved in the documentary form. This is seen to great affect in The Leader. After parting from Churchill in the mid-1980s. Although. Diamond Skulls (1989). Tracking Down Maggie (1994). the latter made with Joan Churchill. was a considerable disappointment. Sex is the theme again in Heidi Fleiss: Hollywood Madam (1995) and Fetishes (1996). His Driver and the Driver’s Wife (1991). His only pure fiction film to date. Juvenile Liaison 2 (1990. co-directed with Joan Churchill). his second film about Aileen Wuornos seemed to reveal a greater self-awareness of his own ability to manipulate and be manipulated. Diamond Skulls (1989). He even managed to turn failure into success with Tracking Down Maggie (1994) where his inability to get anywhere near the ex-prime minister actually serves to reveal her state of isolation. co-directed with Joan Churchill). His Driver and the Driver’s Wife (1991) in which the South African neo-Nazi Eugene Terreblanche is given every opportunity to expose his racist views and duly obliges. has taken this to an extreme. while Kurt and Courtney (1998) and Biggie and Tupac (2002) focus on celebrity and its darker consequences. naive figure whose apparent innocence is frequently used as a device to lull his subjects into a false sense of security. Broomfield’s films raise questions about the role of the documentary film-maker. Broomfield and Churchill decamped to America where he has largely worked since. the BFI. therefore making them more likely to make some unfortunate gaffe. Most of his recent work has been American-based. . His sympathy for outsiders is apparent again in the depiction of life in a Nevada brothel. New Documentary: A Critical Introduction (London: Routledge. Bibliography: Stella Bruzzi. like Michael Moore.
as the repressed Fox gradually unravels under the influence of sex. Prodigiously gifted as a painter. was intended as another complex exploration of sexuality and violence. The film’s experienced cinematographer. White of the Eye (1987) is a visually arresting psychological horror exhibiting rather more of the cinematic invention which Cammell had shown on Performance. Warner Brothers. but was so rearranged by its producers that Cammell had his name removed from the credits. Cammell was born in Edinburgh. Nicolas ROEG. The film is also a stylistic tour de force. Cammell’s script for Performance drew on his experience of the Chelsea set. drugs and rock ’n’ roll. he trained at the Royal Academy and then established himself as a successful portrait painter to fashionable London society in the 1950s. Its story of the encounter between a jaded rock star (Mick Jagger) and a brutal gangster (James Fox) provides the framework for a dazzling examination of the nature of identity. He was . even if its innovative editing methods were devised principally to get its controversial material past the censor. Demon Seed (1977) is an inventive. His last feature film. Its subsequent cult status owes much to the mythology which surrounded the film. on 17 January 1934. Whether through his own intransigence or the shortsightedness of an industry which failed to appreciate his unusual gifts. heir to a shipbuilding fortune which had been lost in the stock market crash of the 1930s. Wild Side (1995). He entered the film industry as a scriptwriter with two unremarkable Swinging London caper films. Cammell was only able to complete a further three feature films over the next twenty-five years. Cammell’s reputation still rests largely on the achievements of just one remarkable film. but slightly farcical science fantasy in which a woman (Julie Christie) is impregnated by a computer. was asked to co-direct with Cammel to reassure its American backers. Its blurring of the boundaries of sexuality and gender made it the perfect film to express the ethos of Britain’s burgeoning counterculture. both of which deal with the intersection between gangsters and hippiedom. a world where gangsters partied alongside pop stars and the aristocracy. a theme that was to be central to Performance. the son of Charles Richard Cammell.donald cammell 39 C Donald CAMMELL Few careers in British cinema have promised so much but ended in such tragic disappointment as that of Donald Cammell. with tales of debauchery on set and the consequent breakdown and religious conversion of James Fox. The Touchables (1968) and Duffy (1968). Performance (1970). Basing himself in Hollywood.
in Steve Chibnall and Robert Murphy (eds). co-directed with Nicolas Roeg). His films have an individuality of expression which marks him out as a unique figure. John Grierson. He had directed more than a dozen films when he was brought to Britain to join the GPO Film Unit by its head. Leaving just these four films as his cinematic legacy. he left Brazil to study architecture and interior design in Geneva. These short films pushed beyond Grierson’s concern with the educational possibilities of documentary. Wild Side was eventually released in a ‘director’s cut’ version after his collaborator on Performance. Cammel shot himself and died on 24 April 1996 in Los Angeles. editor and sound supervisor. to develop a more fully artistic approach which combined sound (including the reading of poetry and the innovative use of music) . Colin MacCabe. ‘Performance: Interview with Donald Cammell’. in 1934. Born in Rio de Janeiro on 6 February 1897. Whether making propaganda documentaries or working for mainstream studios handling genre material. Frank Mazzola. British Feature Films: Performance (1970. as well as director. He produced Humphrey JENNINGS’ Spare Time (1939) and was the key influence on the groundbreaking Night Mail (1936). He worked in a remarkable range of capacities at the GPO including art director. as well as being a pioneer of art cinema in Britain. an impressionistic ‘city symphony’ documentary. had re-cut it to more closely reflect Cammell’s original intentions. British Crime Cinema (London: Routledge. Alberto CAVALCANTI If any director’s career might serve to prove that there is more to British cinema than gritty realism and cosy comedies. Bibliography: Jon Savage. 1998). 1999). Grierson had been particularly impressed by Rien que les Heures (1926). having experienced Warner Brothers’ attempts to suppress and re-edit Performance. it might be the extraordinarily varied output of Alberto Cavalcanti. with an eye (and ear) for unsettling detail. Performance (London: BFI. He entered films as a set designer in Paris where he quickly became part of the burgeoning cinematic avant-garde.40 alberto cavalcanti used to such treatment. before taking over management of the unit on Grierson’s departure in 1937. as well as directing Pett and Pott (1934) and Coal Face (1935). Cavalcanti brought a genuinely original sensibility to his work. The BBC’s superb documentary Donald Cammell: The Ultimate Performance provides a vivid portrait of a unique talent unfulfilled.
It was logical enough that he should move to Ealing in 1940. but has considerable artistic merit too. . but subsequently returned again to Europe where he worked in a number of countries. but the startling violence of the film’s final battle between the villagers and the German soldiers who have invaded this peaceful corner of England haunts the mind and suggests a wider concern with the brutality lurking inside everyone.alberto cavalcanti 41 with striking imagery. He worked on three further features for Ealing. It helped to establish the popular. He died in Paris in 1982. From a story by Graham Greene. a studio which was pioneering the use of documentary techniques to add realism to its wartime propaganda dramas. Although working with fairly routine genre material. where the well-worn story of a ventriloquist’s dummy coming to life is invested with a disturbing sense of the uncanny. Cavalcanti brings to the film his interest in combining surface realism with the evocation of subjective states of mind. although critically derided. including a brief return to Britain where he made the animated film The Monster of Highgate Ponds (1960). the film successfully conveys its message of the need for vigilance. Cavalcanti’s British work defied many of the edicts which have dominated British cinema. Cavalcanti was central in assisting Michael Balcon in establishing Ealing’s characteristic style. all of which allowed him to move away from documentary naturalism. Although The First Gentleman (1948) and For Them That Trespass (1948) are relatively unremarkable. He also helped to foster the roster of young talent which blossomed at the company in the 1940s and 1950s. Michael Redgrave’s performance convincingly conveys the interior world of man rapidly losing his grasp on reality. He also spent a period teaching in the States. Cavalcanti’s liking for the surreal is still apparent in Went the Day Well? (1942). Even more startling was his contribution to the portmanteau chiller Dead of Night (1945). violence and corruption. Cavalcanti returned to Brazil in 1950 to help bolster its developing film industry. while Nicholas Nickleby (1947) captured the darkness and grotesquery at the heart of Dickens’s vision. he made three other British feature films. Nonetheless. Away from Ealing. Behind the scenes. The musical Champagne Charlie (1944) brought an urbane sophistication and period sense to Ealing’s output. He paved the way for poetic documentary filmmakers like JENNINGS and established an approach to the form that was to be influential internationally. so that we increasingly share the central character’s skewed view of a Britain lost to black marketeering. They Made Me a Fugitive (1947) was a landmark film. cycle of lurid postwar crime films. His work frequently combines a naturalistic depiction of the everyday with a concern for the creative imagination.
During the 1990s she continued to make documentaries for television. including Acting Our Age (1991) which looked at the experiences of elderly Asians living in Southall. she made her American debut with What’s Cooking (2000). Dead of Night (1945.42 gurinder chadha a combination rare in British cinema of the 1940s. Rich Deceiver (1995). Champagne Charlie (1944). one segment). Her first feature film. He remains one of the most creative and unsung British film-makers. The sympathetic characterisations and strong performances. It combines serious drama that deals with topical issues (such as interracial relationships and marital violence) with comedy. make for an original and successful mix. It captures beautifully the complexities of contemporary multicultural Britain through its interviews with four young British Asians. Following a two-part drama for the BBC. was the engaging Bhaji on the Beach (1993). one Vietnamese. His influence was immense. Gurinder Chadha moved with her parents to Southall in London in 1961. taking in the Thanksgiving celebrations of four families. Nicholas Nickleby (1947). 2000). funded under the BFI’s New Directors scheme. Scotland. They Made Me a Fugitive (1947). The First Gentleman (1948). For Them That Trespass (1948). along with an acute eye for the hybrid details thrown up by the collision of different ethnic groups in modern Britain (typified by the film’s title). Northern Ireland and Wales. co-scripted with Meera Syal. . one . she became a broadcast journalist with BBC Radio. The latter was selected for Critic’s Week at the Cannes Festival. . but also in helping to shape the output of the documentary movement and of Ealing Studios. Surrealism and National Cinemas (Trowbridge: Flicks Books. Bibliography: Ian Aitken. Gurinder CHADHA Born in Kenya in 1960. (1989). not just in paving the way for later maverick film-makers. one each from England. a film which demonstrates her continuing fascination for the clash of differing cultures. Her first film was the remarkable documentary short I’m British But . Alberto Cavalcanti: Realism. as well as short drama films such as A Nice Arrangement (1990) which portrays a British-Asian family on the morning of their daughter’s wedding. After studying at the University of East Anglia. British Feature Films: Went the Day Well? (1942). who display a dizzying variety of accents and interpretations of their own cultural identity. The film contains many of the characteristics typical of her work. focusing on the British-Asian community and in particular the lives of a group of women.
In many ways television was Clarke’s ideal medium. Bride and Prejudice (2004). More . Chadha’s films may take the risk of sugaring the pill. He graduated to directing short dramas and in 1969 moved to the BBC where he worked for their established contemporary drama slots The Wednesday Play and Play for Today. The film clearly hit a nerve with British audiences who recognised in it a sharply focused image of their own changing communities. Returning to Britain she scored a major commercial and critical success with Bend It Like Beckham (2002). as it allowed him to address topical issues while reaching a broad domestic audience. before returning to England where he entered television as a floor manager at Rediffusion. British Feature Films: Bhaji on the Beach (1993).alan clarke 43 Jewish. From 1958 he studied radio and television arts at the Ryerson Institute in Toronto. and much of his subsequent work was for the small screen. Clarke was born in Liverpool on 28 October 1935. one African-American and one Latino. but the accurate detail of her observation is sharp enough to convince most audiences that what they are seeing is an astute reflection of an evolving nation. depicting them with a coolness and detachment that never offers easy answers. Bride and Prejudice (2004) is a joyful and irreverent retelling of Jane Austen in the form of a Bollywood musical. Following National Service and a stint as an insurance clerk. he emigrated to Canada at the age of twenty-one and took up gold mining. sexuality or gender. and benefiting from a highly effective score. Few film-makers have followed this path with such unsparing relentlessness as Alan Clarke. it manages to retain something of Austen’s satirical intent alongside the colour and vivacity of Bollywood. the film charts the aspirations of an Asian girl who wants to be taken seriously as a football player. Handled with a real lightness of touch. With considerable warmth and good humour. films that deal with the here and now of British society in a naturalistic manner. Clarke’s characteristic television work deals with disenfranchised young males. Clarke’s films look unblinkingly at the realities of modern British life. alienated anti-heroes who resort to violence either as an act of rebellion against their environment or simply to survive. revealing uncomfortable areas which many would rather not see. Alan CLARKE British cinema has been distinguished by its long tradition of documentary realism. In combining gentle humour with contemporary issues. Bend It Like Beckham (2002). whether in terms of ethnicity. it unfolds the fractured nature of modern British identities. Along the way.
but coarsens the violence to such a degree that the film verges on the exploitative. surreal meditation on the pointless brutality of human beings – a depressing. but even more striking in Elephant (1989. Although the setting is Northern Ireland. . although relatively lightweight. Sue and Bob Too (1986). it presents a series of random assassinations. This is apparent in the depiction of drug dealing in Christine (1987. but still conveys both the bleakness of life on the estate and the boisterous energy of characters who survive the best way they can. Sue and Bob Too (1986). Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire (1985) is a quirky musical comedy set in the world of snooker which never really gels and was a box office disaster. The programme featured extensive use of steadicam. The Firm (1989). this turn towards aggression is sometimes simply an expression of a more inherent brutality. is a coruscating portrait of casual fascism. was much more successful. BBC) which was given a limited art house cinema release. he began to move towards an increasingly pared down. British Feature Films: Scum (1979). the big-screen version retains the powerful performance of a young Ray Winstone. who is drawn into violent racism by a society that can find little use for him. allowing Clarke to shoot long takes which add to the sense of disorientating intensity. The drama explicitly links the hooligan’s view of violence as entertainment with the Thatcher regime’s promotion of self-interest. made back at the BBC. Trevor. Made in Britain (1983). but fittingly powerful finish to Clarke’s short but invaluable career.44 alan clarke disturbingly. Remade as a cinema film in 1979. Tim Roth brilliantly portrays the intelligent skinhead. Before his premature death from cancer in 1990.). Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire (1985). Bibliography: Richard Kelly (ed. startled audiences by suggesting that football hooligans could be respectable middle-class young men like the character portrayed here by Gary Oldman (another remarkable performance). 1998). minimalist style offering even less in the way of obvious points of sympathy or connection for the audience. broadcast by ITV. uncompromising and avoid offering any easy solutions to the social problems they expose. Its story of a council estate lothario and his love affairs adopts a humorous approach. Rita. Alan Clarke (London: Faber. It is Clarke’s most extreme work: running for thirtyfive minutes with barely any dialogue. The shocking revelations of borstal life contained in Scum (1977) led to a ban by the BBC. All three television productions are stark. BBC). this provides no real context for what we see. Clarke’s other cinema features are surprisingly tame by comparison. Instead we are presented with a savage. Rita.
making his directing debut with the short documentary Naples is a Battlefield (1944). but nonetheless was key in paving the way for the social realism of the British New Wave. Returning to the commercial industry. In retrospect the film looks decidedly compromised. which won a number of international prizes including an Oscar. . but is still tightly controlled by Clayton and has memorable performances. the latter an obvious factor in its enormous commercial success. not least in the uncomfortable casting of Harvey. but is also the most individual. He returned to direction with the short film The Bespoke Overcoat (1955).jack clayton 45 Jack CLAYTON Jack Clayton’s eclectic career tends to defy easy categorisation. The film adopts a fragmented narrative structure. He was born in Brighton on 1 March 1921 and first entered the film industry as a child actor in Dark Red Roses (1929). With its subtle evocation of period and its claustrophobic interiors. he continued to work in a variety of capacities throughout the 1950s. and the obvious quality of his best work has led to a gradual reassessment of his status as a filmmaker of some distinction. The last of the ‘trilogy’ was the least successful. determinedly fighting his way up the social pecking order at considerable cost to himself and others. Clayton clearly had no particular commitment to the ‘kitchen sink’ ethos and his subsequent films are much more overtly crafted and stylised. Joe Lampton (Laurence Harvey). the ghosts seen by the governess (Deborah Kerr) can be explained as a manifestation of her own mental state. his dedication to his craft made him a director admired by other film-makers. including John Huston. The Innocents (1961) began a loose trilogy of films concerned with the family. Adapted from John Braine’s novel. The film was groundbreaking in its blunt depiction of the British class system and in its sexual frankness. which may account for the fact that he has rarely been accorded auteur status. the film treads a fine line between conventional ghost story and a psychological tale of repression. it is probably Clayton’s finest film. In the 1930s he worked his way up through the ranks of Korda’s London Films starting as third assistant director. The disintegration of a marriage is at the centre of The Pumpkin Eater (1964). Adapted from Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw. the central character. particularly from Anne Bancroft. adapted from a Gogol short story. However. Few British directors have made more impact with their feature debut than Clayton did with Room at the Top (1959). became an iconic figure of the time. although increasingly in the role of associate producer. adapted by Harold Pinter from Penelope Mortimer’s novel. During the war he worked for the RAF Film Unit.
but there is an attention to form and a concern for the destructive nature of relationships which is evident in the visual polish and the seriousness of these films. Jill CRAIGIE In a persistently male-dominated industry. the director Jeffrey Dell. but he must have been taken aback by the critical mauling it received. The film . she began to script documentaries for the British Council in the early 1940s. and the television film Memento Mori (1992) made for the BBC. British Feature Films: Room at the Top (1959). The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (1987). Increasingly politicised. but as that rare thing. Clayton died on 25 February 1995. Clayton moved to Hollywood in the 1970s where he made two more literary adaptations. Clayton returned to Britain to film Brian Moore’s novel The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (1987). The Pumpkin Eater (1964). Both are low-key and melancholy meditations on ageing and isolation. an openly politically committed film-maker.46 jill craigie Our Mother’s House (1967) adopts a suitably gothic tone for its melodramatic story. Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983) was adapted from Ray Bradbury’s novel and partially succeeds in capturing a teenager’s sense of dislocation. The focus here shifts to the children who are determined to keep their household going despite the death of their mother and the return of their errant father (Dirk Bogarde). which won considerable plaudits for its central performances from Maggie Smith and Bob Hoskins. She worked initially as a journalist. but her influence has been considerable. 2000). Her body of work. She was born on 7 March 1914 in London of Scottish-Russian parentage. mainly in documentaries. Francis Ford Coppola’s script is actually meticulously close to the book and Clayton stages the drama with great attention to detail. Disney. Jack Clayton (Manchester: Manchester University Press. but its backers. is relatively small. Jill Craigie stands out not just as one of the first female directors to work in British cinema. Clayton’s output was relatively small. The Innocents (1961). prevented the film from being as darkly macabre as it should have been. She moved into commercial cinema when she co-scripted the patriotic The Flemish Farm (1943) for her then husband. first entering films in the late 1930s as an actress. Bibliography: Neil Sinyard. He was probably asking for trouble in filming Scott Fitzgerald’s much-loved masterpiece The Great Gatsby (1974). Our Mother’s House (1967).
the film’s depiction of life in a South Wales mining community is compromised by the demands of distributors for audience-pleasing entertainment values. which together form a central plank of the well-loved series of Ealing comedies. as well as supporting her husband in his political career. making a powerful case for equal opportunities for women. a self-financed film about the deteriorating situation in Yugoslavia which was screened by the BBC. Hue and Cry (1946). have only the faintest hints of Craigie’s political commitment within their conventional storylines. who was to become her third husband and life partner. Worn down by the narrow-minded attitudes of the industry towards women directors. is in many ways a more trenchant film. simply getting the film made at all was the major achievement. which portrayed a family in war damaged Plymouth trying. Charles CRICHTON Charles Crichton’s place in British cinema history is assured on the basis of three films. the documentary short To Be a Woman (1951). British Feature Films: Blue Scar (1949). She died in London on 13 December 1999. The Way We Live (1946). The film’s theme was continued in Children of the Ruins (1948) which follows the work of UNESCO in improving the lives of war-displaced children. In retrospect. Her most important film is the feature length docu-drama Blue Scar (1949). To some extent. a landmark film in the development of Welsh cinema. like the city itself. He may have lacked the individuality and dark edge of Ealing’s finest comedy directors such . In her later years she became a renowned expert on the history of the suffragette movement. she was to make a final return with Two Hours from London (1995). The Million Pound Note (1953) and Windom’s Way (1957). It was while making this film that she met the Labour politician and later leader of the Party. the short documentary Out of Chaos (1944) which looks at the work of war artists such as Henry Moore and Paul Nash. both directed by Ronald NEAME for Rank. Although she then retired from film-making.charles crichton 47 was made for Two Cities who also financed her debut as a director. The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) and The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953). Unfortunately. but the romantic narrative and unconvincing London scenes tend to undermine the film’s socialist and feminist leanings. This was followed by another documentary. Michael Foot. Her next film. she returned to scriptwriting in the 1950s. The film is strongest in its location-shot sequences in South Wales which have a feeling of authenticity aided by the non-professional cast. to rebuild their lives.
he went to Ealing as an editor in the early 1940s. He worked on a number of Korda’s most prestigious productions including The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933). He fell in comfortably with Ealing’s dominant mode of documentaryrealism. making For Those in Peril (1944) about the Air-Sea Rescue Service and Painted Boats (1945) depicting life on the English canals. This was to be a crucial move for Crichton as he remained at the studio until 1957 and directed thirteen of his first fourteen films for them. handled with a loving attention to detail. is a fairly tense thriller. but none of these films ranks with his best work. prophetically enough. The Love Lottery (1954) and particularly The Titfield Thunderbolt. his . The problem of wardisplaced children is handled with sympathy in The Divided Heart (1954) and Hunted (1952). but he remained the consummate professional. Cheshire on 6 August 1910. where he made his debut as a director on the documentary short The Young Veterans (1942). Sanders of the River (1935) and Things to Come (1936). His contribution to the classic portmanteau chiller Dead of Night (1945) was. Against the Wind (1947) is an interestingly anti-heroic Second World War drama and Dance Hall (1950) has some vigour in its realism. After Ealing’s demise in 1959.48 charles crichton as Alexander MACKENDRICK and Robert HAMER. he joined Alexander Korda’s London Films in 1932 where he trained as an editor. the film is a joyful celebration of mild-mannered subversion. made for Rank. typify the soft underbelly of Ealing where the love of whimsy easily drifts into cosy conformity. its solitary comic episode intended as light relief. After studying history at Oxford. Another Shore (1948). Crichton’s other comedies for Ealing. creating a winning format. Crichton’s other work for Ealing is mainly routine. but Crichton showed an ability to combine Ealing’s characteristic surface realism with broad comedy. Hue and Cry was intrinsically a film of modest ambitions. The Lavender Hill Mob is quintessential Ealing comedy in its gently anarchic story of a shy bank clerk (Alec Guinness) who turns against the conventions of mundane English life by pulling off a gold bullion robbery. perhaps the most enduringly popular and critically well-regarded comedies in British film history. The film is particularly memorable for its finale in which hordes of schoolboys swarm across London’s bombsites to capture the villains who have been using the boys’ favourite comic to pass coded messages. Charles Crichton was born in Wallasey. The film established a formula that became the basis for the Ealing comedies. Despite the moral ending imposed by censorship. After a stint with the Crown Film Unit. maintaining a solid level of craftsmanship over a career that stretched from the 1930s to the 1990s. ranging across a variety of genres in a proficient but unremarkable manner.
he departed from The Birdman of Alcatraz (1961) after disagreements with its star/producer Burt Lancaster. Hunted (1952). Dance Hall (1950). The Battle of the Sexes (1959). Bibliography: Charles Barr.terence davies 49 output was uneven with just a few hints of better days in the occasionally acid humour of The Battle of the Sexes (1959) and the sub-Ealing charm of Law and Disorder (1958). Another Shore (1948). winning Crichton an Oscar nomination. It was a remarkably happy ending to Crichton’s cinema career. A Fish Called Wanda (1988). It neatly combines Ealing-style warmth with a more Pythonesque black comedy. who subsequently invited Crichton to direct a script Cleese had written. including popular adventure series such as The Avengers. Space 1999 and The Professionals. Train of Events (1949. The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953). Law and Disorder (1958). a company owned by John Cleese. 1977). His approach to filmmaking is the cinematic equivalent of literature’s magic realism. The Third Secret (1964). He died in London on 14 September 1999. Crichton’s skill with actors is evident in the skilful deployment of such varied performers as Kevin Kline. Sadly. Danger Man. The Love Lottery (1954). all of whom have rarely been better on film than they are here. Michael Palin and Cleese himself. British Feature Films: For Those in Peril (1944). The Boy Who Stole a Million (1960). He finally ended up making corporate training videos which bizarrely led to his final flourish as a feature film director at the age of 78. in which a vivid recreation of the everyday world is fused with dreams and . Hue and Cry (1946). Dead of Night (1945. The Lavender Hill Mob (1951). The Man in the Sky (1956). His employer on these videos was Video Arts. Painted Boats (1945). A Fish Called Wanda (1988) was an enormous commercial and critical success. Ealing Studios (London: David & Charles. The Divided Heart (1954). one segment). Most of Crichton’s later work was done for television. one segment). Against the Wind (1947). although he continued to work in television into the 1990s. Floods of Fear (1958). D Terence DAVIES Terence Davies is one of the most distinctive talents to have emerged from British cinema in the last thirty years. He Who Rides a Tiger (1965).
capturing significant memory-moments like snapshots in a family album. the narrative moving backwards and forwards in time. with haunting black and white imagery and fluid. Born in Liverpool on 10 November 1945. Similar themes and techniques run through his first two feature films.500 from the BFI Production Board and on the strength of it he gained a place at the National Film School where he completed Madonna and Child (1980). The former again examines a family damaged by an unpredictable and brutal father. the misery of being forced to cover-up homosexuality in a community living in fear of a stifling Catholicism which encourages feelings of guilt. Many of Davies’ characteristic themes are here: the legacy of an unhappy childhood and painful family life dominated by an oppressive. His first short film. Davies’ two most recent films have been made in America. Leaving school at fifteen. but also celebrates the warmth and vitality of working-class life. although the shadow of church and school still loom large. He took up amateur dramatics and joined Coventry Drama School in 1971. elliptical editing. was made with £8. often expressed through song. Distant Voices. we hear them on the soundtrack which provides a collage of filmic references. he made Death and Transfiguration (1983) with funding from the BFI and the Greater London Arts Association. Still Lives (1988) and The Long Day Closes (1992). The trilogy follows the life of the fictional Robert Tucker. has many familiar . he has pushed the British tradition of social realism into whole new areas. Although we never see the films which young Bud watches at the cinema. although aspects of the films are clearly autobiographical. These themes are handled in a striking cinematic manner. After leaving film school. Davies was the youngest of ten children (three of whom did not survive into adulthood) in a working-class. violent father and an intensely close relationship with the mother. reflecting both the external world and inner world of the film-maker. In typical Davies manner. he spent the next twelve years as a clerk in a shipping office and then in a firm of accountants.50 terence davies memories to produce a form of hyper-realism. Children (1976). casting patterns on a carpet. Together these three short films form The Terence Davies Trilogy and were released as a feature under this name in 1984. Catholic family. Along with directors like Bill DOUGLAS and Lynne RAMSEY. The Neon Bible (1995). such as light passing through curtains. The latter is a happier film. many shots are framed like tableaux and he uses extremely long takes to capture the beauty of the mundane. Escape is offered through the loving presence of Mam and through the magic of cinema. ostracised at school and work. sympathy for a central character who remains an outsider. although set in the Deep South.
Although Davies’ output over thirty years has been relatively small (obtaining funding has been a constant battle). It was the introduction of sound which first alerted Dean to the possibilities which cinema offered. Adapted from Edith Wharton’s novel. 2004). Basil DEAN Basil Dean is a major figure in British film production of the 1930s. his output as a director only partially indicates his centrality to British cinema in that period. Distant Voices. framing and camera movement to capture the protagonist’s subjective viewpoint. The Long Day Closes (1992). Although more conventional in technique.basil dean 51 elements in its depiction of a lonely childhood. British Feature Films: The Terence Davies Trilogy (1984). He was born in Croydon on 27 September 1888 and entered the theatre in 1906 as an actor. although he seems to have viewed film as an adjunct to his theatrical projects. joining Manchester repertory company in 1907. Both The . At least as important as a producer and studio executive. He was appointed as the first director of Liverpool Repertory Theatre in 1911 and by the 1920s had established himself as one of the most successful producers in British theatre. these films still make expressive use of colour. Lily Bart (Gillian Anderson). He subsequently developed Ealing Studios as the first in Britain specifically designed for sound production. although his lasting reputation is more likely to be as the film-maker who most helped to bring the ‘low’ traditions of the music hall to the screen. He founded Associated Talking Pictures (ATP) in 1929 to bring contemporary plays to a wider audience. who has difficulty finding her place in the shallow world of American high society in the early years of the twentieth century. it still focuses on an outsider. he has created a highly personal body of work which combines consistent thematic concerns with a strikingly formalised visual vocabulary. Still Lives (1988). The majority of the films Dean directed himself in the 1930s (as well as those he produced) tend to betray their theatrical origins. effectively making him a founding father of the literary tradition in British cinema. Terence Davies (Manchester: Manchester University Press. His career is one of the clearest examples of the influence of the theatre in the formation of British cinema. Bibliography: Wendy Everett. The results have placed him at the forefront of British art cinema. The House of Mirth (2000) is something of a departure in depicting an adult central character.
co-directed with Adrian Brunel). our Gracie manages to unite workers and management (albeit slightly unconvincingly). was based on a John Galsworthy play and his other work of the 1930s includes an adaptation of Lorna Doone (1934). to the screen. Critics. have tended to be unflattering about his limitations as a film director. and Autumn Crocus (1934) had been earlier theatrical hits for him. marching them off to a brighter future together with a jaunty song in their hearts. with Carol REED. Although he was more often producer. Look Up and Laugh . His really lasting achievement of the 1930s was in finding a suitable format for bringing stars of the music hall. Sing As We Go! (1934). His first film as director for ATP. Looking on the Brightside (1932). an ethos which was to be central to Ealing’s future output.52 basil dean Constant Nymph. Loyalties (1933). The Constant Nymph (1933). Birds of Prey (1930). British Feature Films: The Constant Nymph (1928. Dean himself directed Fields’ most appealing vehicle. Set against a backdrop of social deprivation and industrial unrest. Escape (1930). Escape (1930). as well as a good deal of heartfelt optimism. He died of a heart attack on 22 April 1978. and this despite some striking use of location sequences in his films. offering them a slice of genuinely working-class humour and irreverence not seen previously in British cinema. In the process he established an approach to production which combined entertainment values with a broadly realistic visual style. It’s easy to be cynical about the political naivety of the film. Nonetheless. He was awarded the MBE in 1918 for his services to national entertainment in the First World War and in 1947 he received the CBE. as a producer he had a good eye for future directorial talent. By the end of the 1930s Dean had returned to his first love. and even some of his colleagues. leaving Ealing in the capable hands of Michael Balcon. Autumn Crocus (1934). During the Second World War he became the founding director of ENSA which provided entertainment for servicemen and women throughout the War. which he filmed twice (1928 and 1933). He continued his theatre career into the 1970s. Lorna Doone (1934). David LEAN and Michael POWELL all getting a start with him. and which addressed the concerns of a specifically British audience. such as Gracie Fields and George Formby. seeing him as too rooted in theatrical traditions to fully exploit the possibilities of the new medium. Sing As We Go! (1934). Nine Till Six (1932). but at the time it offered a reasonably authentic portrait of northern workingclass life. These stars proved immensely popular with audiences. the theatre. The Impassive Footman (1932).
It was. but is best remembered for Dirk Bogarde’s intense performance as a young tearaway. Will Hay. His youthful interest in amateur dramatics led to him entering the theatre as an actor. He changed his name to Dearden to avoid any confusion with his boss. but he quickly moved behind the curtain to become a stage manager. from the melodramatic The Ship that Died of Shame (1955). but Dearden and Relph frequently showed a preference for subjects which raised wider moral issues. 1973). which paid tribute to the wartime heroism of the Auxiliary Fire Service. In retrospect. 1985). whilst Frieda (1947) deals sympathetically with the prejudice facing a German woman who. His first solo effort was The Bells Go Down (1943). well-meaning but dull. including five George Formby vehicles. finds herself living in postwar England. through the documentary approach of Out of the Clouds . this assessment of their Ealing output seems inadequate. As a director-producer-writer team they became the most prolific film-makers working at Ealing. Basil DEARDEN Basil Dearden was born on 1 January 1911 in Westcliffe-on-Sea as Basil Dear. The Captive Heart (1946) is a moving POW film. perhaps. subsequently making the same shift into films that DEAN had. 21 Days (1937). usually as writer or associate producer. Mind’s Eye: An Autobiography (London: Hutchinson. The Show Goes On (1937). joining him at Associated Talking Pictures (ATP) where Dean was studio head. The film’s art director was Michael Relph and his meeting with Dearden marked the beginning of a remarkable collaboration which was to last nearly thirty years. Whom the God’s Love (1936). When Michael Balcon took over the ATP studios at Ealing. There are films which certainly fit the 1940s Ealing ethos in terms of adopting a realist style and dealing with contemporary issues. Dearden remained. Film Making in 1930s Britain (London: Allen & Unwin. Bibliography: Rachel Low. In 1931 he went to work for theatre producer Basil DEAN as his general stage manager. The Blue Lamp (1949) tackles juvenile crime within an exciting thriller format (a technique that was to become a trademark). their role as studio workhorses that led to a rather poor critical reputation. with Dearden co-directing with Hay. through marriage. Basil Dean.basil dearden 53 (1935). with commentators dismissing their work as routine. During the late 1930s he worked on a number of Ealing films. A number of their films deal with the difficulties of postwar readjustment. His directing career began on three comedies featuring another of Ealing’s music hall stars.
and the whimsical comedy The Smallest Show on Earth (1957). and that the attempt to frame the topics within fairly conventional storylines drained them of any sense of conflict. In a ghastly irony. with its sumptuous colour cinematography and rich production design. supernatural thriller The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970). but within its genre narrative offers a remarkably cynical depiction of a group of ex-soldiers who find themselves discarded in postwar Britain. Dearden’s considerable output is certainly uneven. often using the crime genre. In the late 1950s Dearden and Relph embarked on a series of ‘social problem’ films which explicitly tackled topical themes within a deliberately audience-pleasing entertainment format. which pays nostalgic tribute to the magic of film-going in a style close to the tradition of the Ealing comedies. The film was credited with being central to the subsequent decriminalisation. The latter was made after the demise of Ealing. The recent. drew a good deal of criticism on the grounds that their timid liberalism failed to fully address the complexity of the issues involved. and eventual legalisation. as evidenced by the fact that it effectively ended Dirk Bogarde’s Rank contract. while Victim (1961) was groundbreaking in depicting the way that homosexuals were subject to blackmail under contemporary laws. but still threw up a number of interesting items including the spectacular epic Khartoum (1965) and the modest. to the crime caper The League of Gentlemen (1960). particularly in the early 1950s. and more sympathetic. Violent Playground (1958) again dealt with juvenile delinquency and Life for Ruth (1962) focused on an ethical clash between religious fundamentalism and modern medicine. with Roger Moore as a dull man whose exciting alter ego is released in a car crash. reassessment of their work has tended to place the films in context. which have become intrinsically associated with Dearden and Relph. Their later films shifted on to safer ground. so it’s unsurprising that some critics . the sober realism that predominates in these films doesn’t tell the full story of Dearden’s output in this period. Notable among his other films are the gloriously melancholy costume piece Saraband for Dead Lovers (1948). which didn’t sit comfortably with the strictures of the auteur theory. Dearden also provided a section for Ealing’s macabre portmanteau film Dead of Night (1945). However. of homosexuality.54 basil dearden (1955). Another reason for Dearden and Relph’s poor standing may have been this eclecticism. but neatly executed. These films. Dearden’s career was brought to a premature end when he died as the result of a car accident on 23 March 1971. Sapphire (1959) was among the first British films to deal with racial tensions. showing the risks they took in making a film like Victim.
Thorold Dickinson managed to have a considerable impact on British cinema. He then established himself as chief editor at ATP (later to become Ealing) during the 1930s. The Mind Benders (1963). However. The Goose Steps Out (1942. Frieda (1947). Man in the Moon (1960). Khartoum (1966). Liberal Directions: Basil Dearden and Postwar British Film Culture (Trowbridge: Flicks Books. Only When I Larf (1968). codirected with Will Hay). Who Done It? (1956). one segment). Masquerade (1965). A Place to Go (1963). Life for Ruth (1962). They Came to a City (1944). Pool of London (1950). I Believe in You (1952). Saraband for Dead Lovers (1948). Violent Playground (1958). My Learned Friend (1943. but he was still able to take a very active public role in promoting his concerns and raising the profile of cinema as an art form in Britain. son of the city’s Archdeacon. The Secret Partner (1961). Thorold DICKINSON Despite a relatively small output of feature films. his work has gradually been given more of the due it deserves. The Rainbow Jacket (1954). The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970). co-directed with Will Hay). tended to separate him from the conformist mainstream. His interest in film aesthetics. All Night Long (1961). The Ship that Died of Shame (1955). Dickinson was born in Bristol on 16 November 1903. The Bells Go Down (1943). The Captive Heart (1946). The League of Gentlemen (1960). Oxford (where he was studying history) for neglecting his studies in favour of cinema and theatre. He was sent down from Keble College. The Square Ring (1953). The sheer variety of his output shouldn’t obscure the consistency of his concern with moral issues tackled within clear social settings. He entered the industry in 1925 as an assistant director and then editor for the pioneering film-maker George PEARSON. Cage of Gold (1950). Woman of Straw (1964). The Assassination Bureau Limited (1968). one segment). The Halfway House (1944). Train of Events (1949. Tim O’Sullivan and Paul Wells (eds). The Blue Lamp (1949). co-directed with Will Hay). Bibliography: Alan Burton. British Feature Films: The Black Sheep of Whitehall (1941. Sapphire (1959). Victim (1961). as well as his sense of political commitment. Out of the Clouds (1955). The Smallest Show on Earth (1957). Dead of Night (1945.thorold dickinson 55 dismissed him as all too typical of the restraint and mediocrity which has sometimes beset British cinema. His credits as editor include Basil DEAN’s Sing As We Go! (1934) and Carol REED’s Midshipman Easy . 1997). The Gentle Gunman (1952).
For all Dickinson’s socially progressive attitudes. but this pales beside the effectiveness of The Next of Kin (1942). an adaptation of Patrick Hamilton’s popular stage play which helped to send Gainsborough on its successful path into period melodramas. MGM. of which he was to be Vice-President from 1936 to 1953. Fanfare Pictures. in order to make his debut as a director. . Here he came into contact with the masterpieces of European art cinema. With the Second World War. his political commitment again came to the fore when he went to Civil War Spain to make two documentary shorts. its tragic narrative spelling out how careless talk can cost lives with the exciting grip of a classic thriller. High Command (1937) is a melodramatic yarn set in West Africa and distinguished only by the inventiveness of Dickinson’s direction. He was a central figure in the London Film Society throughout the 1930s. a fact that its makers. the film can’t survive its own worthiness or a tendency to patronise. Dickinson made the entertaining second feature The Arsenal Stadium Mystery (1939). The film is an object lesson in how to get a propaganda message across in an entertaining format. His independent streak became apparent when he formed his own production company. It is considerably more subtle than the Hollywood remake. His first major film was Gaslight (1940). With the rapid demise of Fanfare. Unusually for a British director. serving on its Council and acting as Programme Controller until the Society’s last screenings in 1939. Dickinson brilliantly evokes the Victorian atmosphere of cluttered domestic tension. He spent three years working on Men of Two Worlds (1946). acknowledged by trying to suppress Dickinson’s version. Back in Britain. a project designed to show how a more enlightened approach might bring about fruitful collaboration in Britain’s rapidly diminishing Empire. His biopic of Disraeli. as Anton Walbrook’s charmingly evil husband sets about driving his mentally fragile wife (Diana Wynyard) insane. was tailored to emphasise its patriotic elements. Dickinson also made the short Yesterday Is Over Your Shoulder (1940) and was central to establishing and managing the Army Kinematograph Service’s film unit. ACT. Spanish ABC and Behind the Enemy Lines (both 1938 and co-directed with Sidney Cole). made by Two Cities for the Colonial Office. The Prime Minister (1941). Dickinson made a number of cinematic contributions to the war effort.56 thorold dickinson (1935). including the work of Eisenstein which was to have a profound influence on him. for Ivor Montague’s Progressive Film Institute. which won plaudits from Graham Greene. It was during this period that his anger at working conditions in the industry led to his involvement in the main industry union. Dickinson was fascinated by the artistic and intellectual possibilities of the medium.
helping to establish film studies as an academic discipline. The Next of Kin (1942). cinematography and performances all combine to maximise the mood of fatalistic gloom. uncompromising talents. Making a Film: The Story of ‘Secret People’ (London: Allen & Unwin. The Prime Minister (1941). Gaslight (1940). 1971). Bibliography: Jeffrey Richards.bill douglas 57 The Next of Kin had shown that Dickinson could master the realist mode. The Arsenal Stadium Mystery (1939). It was another four years before Dickinson was finally able to bring his most personal project to the screen. He became Britain’s first professor of film studies in 1967. This is nowhere clearer than with Queen of Spades (1948). Thorold Dickinson and the British Cinema (Lanham. exulted company indeed. 1952). but there are moments . His individualism and personal vision puts him in that select band of maverick British film-makers who include Michael POWELL and Alberto CAVALCANTI. a magnificently stylised adaptation of Pushkin’s ghost story with Anton Walbrook as the Russian officer who makes a Faustian pact with the devil. Perhaps the film had been nurtured too long. a propagandist film with realistically staged battle scenes. 1997). liberal message to a wide audience. Secret People proved to be Dickinson’s last British film. His career was cut short by illness and his legacy is a scant handful of films. He died in Oxford on 14 April 1984. Queen of Spades (1948). Set designs. A Discovery of Cinema (Oxford: Oxford University Press. as critics were divided and audiences indifferent to its obvious sincerity. Thorold Dickinson. as well as a concern for the expressive potential of the medium as art. Lindsay Anderson. Bill DOUGLAS Bill Douglas has a special place in British cinema history as one of its most unique. but he was clearly more in his me ´ tier with subjects that allowed full range to his expressive tendencies. Secret People (1952) is set in the 1930s and tells of political exiles in Britain fighting against fascism in their unnamed home country. finally retiring in 1971. British Feature Films: High Command (1937). From 1956 to 1960 he headed up film services at the United Nations and then in 1960 he became a lecturer at the Slade School of Fine Art. Throughout his career he had shown a belief in the power of cinema as a means of conveying a positive. Men of Two Worlds (1946). Secret People (1952). MD and London: Scarecrow Press. He went to work in Israel in the early 1950s as a film adviser and made Hill 24 Doesn’t Answer (1955).
Douglas widens the film into a meditation on the process of recording history as well as a celebration of the pioneers of cinema. However. Again he moves beyond the easy naturalism that might have been expected for retelling the story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs – six farm labourers deported for forming a trade union in 1834. a mining community near Edinburgh. Douglas was diagnosed with cancer and died on 18 June 1991 at the age of 54. Comrades (1987). including an adaptation of James Hogg’s Confessions of a Justified Sinner. by critics and audiences. He left a number of unrealised scripts. My Ain Folk (1973) and My Way Home (1978). or even seen. His childhood was marked by poverty. including many early optical instruments and amusements which are now housed in the Bill Douglas Centre at the University of Exeter. on 17 April 1937. painful childhood and adolescence as we follow young Jamie (Stephen Archibald) towards adulthood. Sequences unfold like fragmentary memories.58 bill douglas in his work that haunt the memory in a manner that few British filmmakers have matched. the films are ostensibly realist depictions of an impoverished. during which time he taught at the National Film and Television School and Strathclyde University while trying to raise sufficient funds to complete the film. Back in London. Based on his own experiences. The darkness of Jamie’s upbringing is broken by moments of sustaining warmth which build towards the intimations of a possible new life which he finds during National Service. Thanks to the enthusiasm of writers like Derek Malcolm of The Guardian and the re-evaluation by scholars of Scottish film culture. he took up acting with Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop and then studied at the London Film School where he made a number of shorts. During his lifetime Douglas’s work was little appreciated. During National Service in Egypt he met Peter Jewell who became his long-time companion. It took eight years to bring his final film. full of unforgettably vivid images. He was born at Newcraighall. His fascination with the latter led to he and Peter Jewell amassing an extraordinary collection of film ephemera and books. Douglas does not follow the usual linear narrative structures of realism. his status has been subject to a complete over- . Douglas’s reputation is based on the trilogy of films he produced with (limited) financial support from the BFI: My Childhood (1972). to the screen. The final image of a tree in bud is a movingly optimistic one. but also by a love of the cinema as a magically transformative medium. forcing the audience to engage actively with the films to fill in the missing pieces. By introducing the figure of an itinerant magic lanternist into the narrative. preferring an elliptical editing style in which key plot information is frequently withheld.
a wartime propaganda parable about the dangers of conspicuous consumption. Inflation (1942). My Ain Folk (1973). In Britain he worked initially in television for ITV before graduating to a number of ‘B’ movies. British Feature Films: My Childhood (1972).cy endfield 59 haul. At university Endfield’s political interests had developed and he became involved with the Young Communist League. My Way Home (1978). For the next ten years he was in regular employment as a director. Pennsylvania on 10 November 1914. His first short film. writing and directing under a series of . he resettled in Britain. one which has subsequently been taken up by the likes of Terence DAVIES and Lynne RAMSEY. Welles being another devotee of magic. but his political leanings are apparent in the powerful lynch mob drama The Sound of Fury (1950) and the taughtly directed crime thriller The Underworld Story (1950). Andrew Noble and Duncan Petrie (eds). Bill Douglas: A Lanternist’s Account (London: BFI. The bulk of his feature films are routine ‘B’ movies and low budget fillers like Gentleman Joe Palooka (1946) and Tarzan’s Savage Fury (1952). Another passion was for magic. 1993). although he still remains a little known figure to the wider filmgoing public. Bibliography: Eddie Dick. It was the latter which was to gain him entry to Orson Welles’ Mercury production company in Hollywood in the early 1940s. Cyril Raker Endfield studied at Yale before working with a number of liberal theatre projects of the kind which developed under Roosevelt’s depression-era New Deal policies. The unsentimental rigour and poetic immediacy of the Trilogy indicated a way out of the cul-de-sac which had been reached by the realist tradition in British cinema. In 1951 he fled the United States after being named a Communist by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). He made eight short films and seven features in Hollywood. Comrades (1987). was shelved after complaints from the Chamber of Commerce that it was anti-capitalist. It remains required viewing for those who love the medium of film. particularly card tricks. E Cy ENDFIELD Born in Scranton. usually credited at this time as Cyril Endfield.
it looks flabby in comparison with the sharpness of their best work together. The Master Plan (1954). which he co-produced with Baker. Charles De Latour) to avoid distribution difficulties in America. Warwickshire on 16 April 1995. 2005). Zulu – With Some Guts Behind It: The Making of the Epic Movie (Sheffield: Tomahawk Press. Endfield’s finest moment came with the military epic Zulu (1964). as well as by a remarkable cast of British heavies including Patrick McGoohan. Impulse (1955). The faintly ludicrous plot is disguised by the punchy economy of Endfield’s handling and the energy of the film’s driving sequences. Endfield’s final film with Baker was the disappointing Sands of the Kalahari (1965). but Hell Drivers (1957) has achieved cult status. It is a rugged. Sidney James and (briefly) a very young Sean Connery. Beset with casting difficulties. The Secret (1955). Hugh Raker. His final film was Universal Soldier (1971). Sands of the Kalahari (1965). Zulu (1964). a sort of electronic pocket notebook. He became involved in the creation of a sequel to Zulu. In later years he turned his constantly inventive mind towards the invention of such gadgets as the Microwriter. Bibliography: Sheldon Hall. Sea Fury (1958) and Jet Storm (1959) are unremarkable action dramas. Raker Endfield. gritty depiction of the world of lorry drivers who take huge risks competing with each other over who can make faster deliveries of ballast. Child in the House (1956). De Sade (1969) was another ill-fated project financed by Roger Corman’s American International Pictures and completed by Corman after Endfield had become ill. He died in Shipston-onStour. Universal Soldier (1971). British Feature Films: Colonel March Investigates (1953). a well intentioned but desultory anti-war film. Hell Drivers (1957). eventually released as Zulu Dawn (1979). Jet Storm (1959). The Limping Man (1953).60 cy endfield pseudonyms (C. Mysterious Island (1961). On Child in the House (1956) he first met Welsh actor Stanley Baker who was to become his friend and collaborator on six British films which include Endfield’s best work. Hide and Seek (1963). The film manages to combine the excitement and spectacle of its tightly coordinated battle scenes with a genuine thoughtfulness which acknowledges the sacrifices on both sides and questions the legitimacy of British imperialism. but withdrew from the project after Stanley Baker’s premature death from cancer. Sea Fury (1958). .
The film has a strong sense of place and evokes the cliche ´ s of film noir with considerable visual panache. A dark portrait of alcoholic self-destruction. television. He then took a radical turn towards a more experimental cinema with The Loss of Sexual Innocence (1999). The House (1984). in 1980. poignant understatement of the earlier version. The Mike Figgis Group. but somehow it never catches the sensitive. raised in Nairobi until he was eight and then returned with his family to Newcastle. His love of music is apparent in his feature film debut. As well as directing. a film set in Africa. he frequently writes the scripts for his films as well as the music score. the independently produced Leaving Las Vegas (1995). He joined the avant-garde theatre group The People Show before going on to form his own theatrical company. His career started in pop music with the band Gas Board (whose singer was a young Bryan Ferry). it crossed over to the mainstream and won a barrage of awards including an Oscar for its star Nicholas Cage. The film was a decent success and took him to Hollywood where he made two further stylish thrillers. He was born in Carlisle on 28 February 1948. film and music. Figgis’s progress has been erratic and unpredictable. His Hollywood career temporarily stalled with the misjudged romance Mr Jones (1993). Figgis’s version is more overtly pessimistic and downbeat than ASQUITH’s and gains from Albert Finney’s strong central performance. The success of Leaving Las Vegas was followed by another commercial failure with the American drama One Night Stand (1997). the slickly efficient Internal Affairs (1990) and the rather more cerebral. His career also belongs as much to American cinema as it does British. followed by a period studying music in London. dream-like Liebestraum (1991). set among the jazz clubs of his native Newcastle. which led to a commission from Channel 4 for a television film. an adaptation of Terence Rattigan’s play The Browning Version (1994). Figgis returned to Britain with a rather surprising choice of subject.mike figgis 61 F Mike FIGGIS Mike Figgis is something of a renaissance figure whose work spreads across theatre. Stormy Monday (1988). England and Italy which combines elements of autobiography with an interracial retelling of the story of Adam and . Returning to America Figgis made his most successful film to date. which had previously been successfully filmed by Anthony ASQUITH. which sank without trace. He started to experiment with the use of film in his theatre work. but is let down by a forgettable storyline and lack of emotional depth.
but also raise questions over how meaningful the manipulation of technique here actually is. A British-Italian co-production. including a . The fragmentary structure and obtuse layering proved too alienating for most audiences and critics. The film was shot within one set using digital cameras in a series of long takes which add to the intensity and claustrophobia of the piece. He returned to the use of split-screens and multiple perspectives in his short contribution to the portmanteau film Ten Minutes Older: The Cello (2002) and filmed a masterclass he held for film students in Slovenia as Co/Ma (2004). Terence Fisher was born in London on 23 February 1904 and joined the industry in 1933 after drifting through a variety of jobs. qualities which have been apparent throughout Figgis’s work. a kind of national cinematic myth. Fisher is unquestionably the master of the British horror film and his work with Hammer forms the cornerstone of the gothic tradition which Pirie sought to celebrate. He remains one of the most unclassifiable contemporary British directors. British Feature Films: Stormy Monday (1988). along with an obvious interest in the shifting tensions within sexual relationships. to the incomprehensibly awful creepy-house thriller. His increasing concern with formal experimentation. If this is the case then Terence Fisher might be regarded within British film history in the same light that John Ford is in American cinema. The results offer a considerable challenge to our normal expectations of film narrative. These films veer from the blatantly commercial to the idiosyncratic and personal. it is set in a Venetian hotel where a Dogme-style version of The Duchess of Malfi is being shot while a television crew makes a documentary about the filming. from the television documentary reconstruction The Battle of Orgreave (2001) about the 1984–5 miners’ strike. The Browning Version (1994). Terence FISHER In his book A Heritage of Horror (1973). Cold Creek Manor (2003). Hotel (2001) offers more radical departures. informs his adaptation of Strindberg’s Miss Julie (1999). The Loss of Sexual Innocence (1999). which makes use of fluid hand-held camerawork and split-screens. Hotel (2001).62 terence fisher Eve. with the drama unfolding in real time and shot as one continuous take. David Pirie claims the Gothic tradition as British cinema’s equivalent to the American western. He took these techniques further again with the American-based Timecode (2000) where four interlocking stories are depicted on a split-screen. His recent work has been almost wilfully eclectic. Miss Julie (1999).
The Curse of Frankenstein (1957). The memorable score and an archetypal role for Peter Cushing as the Baron established the tone. He started directing in 1948 with three short films made at Rank’s Highbury studio before graduating to Gainsborough where he made four features. Fisher directed the first of Hammer’s period horrors. in 1974. Four Sided Triangle (1953) and Spaceways (1953). The film uncovers all of the narrative’s latent sexual tensions. He worked his way up from clapperboy. and best. an enormous box office success that set director and studio on a lucrative path for the next twenty years. These films range across a variety of genres. establishing himself as a reliable editor with credits including Gainsborough’s classic bodice ripper The Wicked Lady (1945). the film nonetheless makes the most of its striking sets and vivid colour cinematography. The film features many of the elements that were to become the basis of Hammer’s house style. Although a good deal of Fisher’s work conforms to the formula which he helped to establish. two of them co-directed with Anthony Darnborough. of the Dracula series. Produced cheaply and quickly. is an atmospheric suspense story which can now be seen as a precursor for his later horror films. turning Dracula into a seductively attractive figure. Eleven of these were made for Hammer in the years before they established themselves as Britain’s premier maker of horror films. Roy Armes’ assessment in his A Critical History of British Cinema. but that view has been largely revised following an extensive critical re-evaluation of Hammer over the last thirty years. The second of these. remained fairly typical of the critical consensus regarding Fisher’s work. as well as two interesting SF thrillers. there is much to admire in his restrained use of editing. published in the late 1970s. Nearly twenty gothic horrors followed from Fisher until his last gasp. churning out nearly twenty of them over the next six years. So Long at the Fair (1950). He brings considerable visual .terence fisher 63 spell in the Merchant Navy. Among his most striking features for Hammer are the first. with iconic performances from Cushing as Van Helsing and Christopher Lee as the Count. with only the briefest falling out with Hammer after the comparative commercial failure of The Phantom of the Opera (1962). but feature a number of crime subjects. that Fisher was little more than a journeyman director who made tasteless genre films. After Gainsborough’s demise in the early 1950s. Dracula (1958). camera position and mise en sce`ne which create tension with more subtlety than might be expected. Fisher became a jobbing director making mainly low-budget ‘B’ movies. although contemporary critics were more concerned by what they saw as the shocking level of violence than by the film’s visual grace. Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell.
Distant Trumpet (1952).64 terence fisher panache to The Brides of Dracula (1960) and a real inventiveness. The Astonished Heart (1950. The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958). co-directed with Anthony Darnborough). Face the Music (1954). As well as gothic horrors. Fisher died on 18 June 1980 in Twickenham. It is easy enough to dismiss these films for their cheap sensationalism or to suggest that Fisher’s undemonstrative directorial style indicates a lack of imagination. Four Sided Triangle (1953). Stolen Assignment (1955). Blood Orange (1953). The Stranglers of Bombay (1959). The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959). These include The Earth Dies Screaming (1964) and Night of the Big Heat (1967). With the benefit of hindsight. Final Appointment (1954). The Stranger Came Home (1954). The Last Man to Hang? (1956). Kill Me Tomorrow (1957). while the tightly directed supernatural chiller The Devil Rides Out (1968) indicated a fruitful direction for Hammer’s future progress if they had only had the nerve to follow it up. The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959). His other Hammer horrors include the effective reworking of familiar material in both The Mummy (1959) and The Curse of the Werewolf (1961). A potentially routine series entry like Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969) is lifted out the rut by the unexpected pathos of Freddie Jones’s performance. Home to Danger (1951). erotic forces that seem to lie just beneath the straight-laced surface of British society. Dracula (1958). The Mummy (1959). The Flaw (1955). Young British filmgoers ignored the dire warnings from critics and found themselves entering a surprisingly moral fairytale world where scientific rationality struggles to come to terms with the violently disruptive. to the bizarre revenge plot of Frankenstein Created Woman (1967). Murder by Proxy (1955). Marry Me (1949). Stolen Face (1952). creating a body of work which seems quintessentially British in both its content and style. The Brides of Dracula . along with a little gender politics. co-directed with Anthony Darnborough). the latter with Oliver Reed in the sympathetic title role. Wings of Danger (1952). So Long at the Fair (1950. Fisher handles these excesses with a remarkable sense of cinematic control. The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959). Mask of Dust (1954). Mantrap (1953). There was also an intelligent and restrained Sherlock Holmes adventure. The Last Page (1952). Spaceways (1953). Cushing made a number of SF films in the 1960s which form part of a small sub-genre of paranoid invasion fantasies typical of the period. Children Galore (1954). The Curse of Frankenstein (1957). but at the very least Fisher was able to unerringly keep his audience coming back for more. British Feature Films: Portrait from Life (1948).
2001). ranging from acting to writing and directing. From the mid-1950s he began to switch his attention to screenwriting where he proved more immediately successful. He began acting in films from 1948 under his stage name of Bryan Forbes and for the next ten years appeared regularly. The Gorgon (1964). Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969). The Earth Dies Screaming (1964). Terence Fisher (Manchester: Manchester University Press. London on 22 July 1926. Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960). He continued to write the scripts for most of his later films as director. It’s easy for his achievements as a director to be overlooked among the wide range of his work. Bryan FORBES Bryan Forbes’ career must rank as one of the most varied in British cinema history. Dracula Prince of Darkness (1965). producing and even a period as head of one of Britain’s major production companies. Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell (1974). The Wooden Horse (1950) and The Colditz Story (1955). joining RADA at seventeen.bryan forbes 65 (1960). 1973). The Horror of It All (1964). For Beaver he produced and wrote The Angry Silence (1960) with ATTENBOROUGH starring as the factory worker persecuted for not taking part in an unofficial strike. Among his more memorable roles are two Second World War dramas. In 1959 his career took another turn when he founded Beaver Films with Richard ATTENBOROUGH. The Phantom of the Opera (1962). Born as John Clarke in Stratford. Bibliography: Peter Hutchings. Island of Terror (1966). establishing himself as a reliable supporting player without ever making it to the front ranks of British stardom. Frankenstein Created Woman (1967). The Charm of Evil: The Life and Films of Terence Fisher (London: Scarecrow Press. 1991). he started his career as an actor. Wheeler Winston Dixon. Forbes’ instinctive conservatism is apparent here and the film . Night of the Big Heat (1967). The Devil Rides Out (1968). The Two Faces of Dr Jekyll (1960). An acid wit is apparent in his adaptation of the Kingsley Amis novel Only Two Can Play (1962) for director Sidney GILLIAT and he brings a similarly cynical tone to Basil DEARDEN’s entertaining caper film The League of Gentlemen (1960) which he also acted in. A Heritage of Horror: The English Gothic Cinema 1946–1972 (London: Gordon Fraser. but particularly in the 1960s he carved out a distinctive niche for himself as a director of understated and often sensitive dramas. His military service included a spell with the Intelligence Corps and with the Combined Forces Entertainment Unit. The Curse of the Werewolf (1961). David Pirie.
The young Hayley Mills stars as one of three Yorkshire children who mistake the escaped criminal in their barn (Alan Bates) for the second coming of Jesus Christ. Newman has appeared regularly in Forbes’ films. The delightful and much-loved The Railway Children (1970. while The Whisperers (1966) offers a coldly restrained study of old age bolstered by a touching central performance from Edith Evans. the still popular Whistle Down the Wind (1961). He also achieved international art house success with Joseph Losey’s The Go-Between (1970). The naturalism of both these films is repeated in The LShaped Room (1962). but they are more conventional and sentimental in approach. the hard-edged POW drama King Rat (1965) and The Stepford Wives (1975). this time to become Head of Production at EMI where he was brave enough to instigate a policy of making family-oriented films. Things reached a low ebb with the highly theatrical and unconvincing The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969) which boasts one of the strangest cast lists ever assembled. a thoroughly unsympathetic sequel to the 1944 children’s classic National Velvet with Tatum O’Neal in the Elizabeth Taylor role. and with International Velvet (1978). In the 1980s he . Two of Forbes’ strongest feature films were made in America. Forbes’ interest in family entertainment resurfaces in The Slipper and the Rose (1976). Forbes’ other films of the 1960s are uneven and increasingly stylised. The Wrong Box (1966) is a frenetic Swinging Sixties black comedy with a neatly evoked Victorian setting and an all-star cast. domesticated robots. These films are close enough in style to nominate them as an adjunct to the realism of the British New Wave.66 bryan forbes was vehemently attacked by critics on the Left. Lionel Jeffries) was an indication of what might have been. The film portrays the children with unpatronising warmth and captures their innocent faith with visual lyricism. but after barely eighteen months of wrangling and in-fighting Forbes had had enough and resigned. a suitably acerbic adaptation of Ira Levin’s story of a group of suburban men who replace their wives with obedient. There is a clear allegory at the centre of his directorial debut. In 1969 he changed direction once again. a saccharin reworking of the Cinderella story. adopting a much lighter approach than the rather self-important character-driven thriller Deadfall (1968). Forbes showed a surer touch with The Raging Moon (1971) about the romance between two paraplegics played by Malcolm McDowell and Forbes’ wife of many years Nanette Newman. Se´ance on a Wet Afternoon (1964) is an odd mixture of psychological study and Hitchcockian suspense with Kim Stanley as the medium involved in a kidnapping case. with its rather contrived cross-section of British life represented by the tenants of a suburban London house.
one full of warmth and humour. The Wrong Box (1966). He struggled to find the funding for his first low-budget feature. The L-Shaped Room (1962). The Slipper and the Rose (1976). or perhaps because of. The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969). Better Late than Never (1982) and The Naked Face (1984). but somehow there is the feeling that such an engaging talent should have produced a filmography with rather more lasting substance in it. but managed to scrimp together £6. as well as two enjoyable volumes of memoirs. Forsyth treats its story. it has the air of being semi-improvised. including John Gordon Sinclair appearing here as the bewildered Gregory. The Naked Face (1984). International Velvet (1978). Bryan Forbes. the diversity of Forbes’ interests. In later years Forbes turned to writing novels. His best films combine a sensitive depiction of innocence with a more world weary cynicism. British Feature Films: Whistle Down the Wind (1961). Much of the same cast took part in Gregory’s Girl (1981). celebrated by Forsyth for their uniqueness. Despite. Bill FORSYTH With just eight feature films in twenty-five years. He continued with this for fifteen years. The . Bill Forsyth has nonetheless created a thoroughly distinctive cinematic world. That Sinking Feeling (1980). with enormous sympathy as well as a good deal of irreverent wit. Se´ance on a Wet Afternoon (1964). 1974). This world is peopled with everyday eccentrics. of a group of unemployed youngsters who steal a consignment of stainless steel kitchen sinks from a warehouse.000 to make it. The Whisperers (1966). Bibliography: Bryan Forbes. neither of which really registered with critics or audiences. The Raging Moon (1971). Notes for a Life (London: Collins. Created with actors from the Glasgow Youth Theatre. A Divided Life (London: Heinemann. There is a clear dedication to reaching family audiences. a liking for well-crafted scripts and an obvious affinity for actors in his work. He was born on 29 July 1946 in Glasgow and started in films at the age of seventeen working on commercial documentary shorts. He was awarded a CBE in 2004. Better Late than Never (1982). interrupted only by brief spells with the BBC and at the National Film School. frequently with Scottish subjects. Deadfall (1968). his career as a director seems strangely unfulfilled. but also with a hint of something more mournful or elegiac. 1992).bill forsyth 67 directed a segment in the internationally produced portmanteau film Sunday Lovers (1980) and two bland features.
Local Hero (1983). Comparisons with Ealing have apparently annoyed Forsyth and yet the plot of Local Hero. bears obvious comparisons with Whiskey Galore (1949). Take Ten: Con- . It has much of the appeal of his earlier work. Bill Paterson plays the DJ whose partner has left him and who becomes embroiled in Glasgow’s ice cream wars. Gregory’s Two Girls (1999). another low-key plea for individualism that is full of wistful charm. It can only be a source of regret that nothing has been seen from him on the big screen since 1999. Few British films have captured the pangs of adolescent first love with such tenderness. with its Scottish villagers saved from the prospect of an American business man (Burt Lancaster) building an oil refinery on their beautiful coastland. in which we now find Gregory working as a teacher at his old school and still as confused by the opposite sex as before. but were nothing compared to the run-in he had with studio executives on the big-budget Being Human (1993) starring Robin Williams. Comfort and Joy (1984). This comic backdrop doesn’t disguise the fact that this is a moving film about loneliness. The bigger budget and glossier production values don’t detract from Forsyth’s heartfelt hymn to a rural community and any sentimentality is undercut by his taste for surreal detail. but they fit perfectly into the traditions of British cinema. Forsyth’s is a precious talent. a film which seemingly ended Forsyth’s American career. featured Burt Reynolds as an ineffectual burglar and again shows Forsyth’s characteristic appreciation for the underdog. to make Housekeeping (1987). Local Hero (1983).68 bill forsyth film’s slender plot is just a frame on which to hang a series of beautifully observed comic vignettes of life in a Scottish new town. The delicacy of his character observation and the quirkiness of his humour may have been out of place in Hollywood. His second American film. where the producer was now head of Columbia. the episodic structure adding to the charm. The film was a surprise box office success and took the eye of producer David Puttnam who financed Forsyth’s next feature. This period of his career was brought to a close by Comfort and Joy (1984) in which the humour is offset by an undercurrent of melancholy. Gregory’s Girl (1981). Returning to Scotland he directed a sequel to his first major success with Gregory’s Two Girls (1999). Bibliography: Jonathan Hacker and David Price. Breaking In (1989). British Feature Films: That Sinking Feeling (1980). Forsyth followed Puttnam to America. but found precious little favour with British critics. Production difficulties beset both these films.
Alan Hunter. His first full credit as cinematographer was on A Hill in Korea (1956) and he quickly made a name for himself with work on blackand-white realist films such as Room at the Top (1959. or someone. Born in Islington. winning his first Oscar for Sons and Lovers (1960.freddie francis 69 temporary British Film Directors (Oxford: Clarendon Press. where his credits include three films with POWELL AND PRESSBURGER. which really set him on a path as a horror specialist. one of Hammer’s few rivals in the genre during the 1960s. A certain mordant wit is apparent in The Skull (1965) . He undertook the same role on several films made in Britain by the American director John Huston and was his second unit cinematographer on Moby Dick (1956). Nightmare (1963) and Hysteria (1964). but it was his third film.). two of the key producers of British horror. He also made his own contribution to two of Hammer’s established monster cycles with The Evil of Frankenstein (1964) and Dracula has Risen from the Grave (1968). in Eddie Dick (ed. Jack Cardiff). nasty lurking in the woodshed. 1991). The film is unusual for Hammer in having a contemporary setting and combines some psychological depth in its characterisations with a suspense story about something. he trained as a stills photographer at Shepherd’s Bush Studios before becoming a clapper-loader at Gaumont-British from 1936. Francis is one of the most distinguished with an impressive list of credits and international awards to his name. But Francis is also a director of gothic horror films and. Jack CLAYTON) and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960. 1990). His debut as a director came with the effective romantic comedy Two and Two Make Six (1962). ‘Bill Forsyth: The Imperfect Anarchist’. Karel REISZ). has developed something of a cult following for his work with Hammer and Amicus. made for Hammer. From Limelight to Satellite: A Scottish Film Book (Edinburgh: Scottish Film Council/BFI. Paranoiac (1963). London on 22 December 1917. although neither adds anything particularly new to the house style. Freddie FRANCIS Freddie Francis occupies an oddly schizophrenic position in British cinema. perhaps to his own irritation. The film was a considerable box office hit and Francis repeated the formula on two further atmospheric Hammer psychothrillers. He worked with the Army Kinematographic Unit during the Second World War and then rejoined the industry as a camera operator. Rather more individual are the low-budget horrors he made for Milton Subotsky’s Amicus. In a national cinema which has produced a remarkable roster of talented cinematographers.
Francis also worked for a number of other poverty-row horror producers. Tales that Witness Madness (1973).70 freddie francis in which the Marquis de Sade’s decapitated remains menace the central characters. Traitor’s Gate (1964). His final forays into big screen horror came with Legend of the Werewolf (1974) and The Ghoul (1975). Tales from the Crypt (1972). Paranoiac (1963). Hysteria (1964). but Amicus’s greatest successes came with the series of portmanteau films they made in which sting-in-the-tale short stories are linked together by a narrative device. Dracula has Risen from the Grave (1968). With odd exceptions. British Feature Films: Two and Two Make Six (1962). Kevin. Torture Garden (1967). Tales from the Crypt (1972) and Tales that Witness Madness (1973) in the same vein. The Ghoul (1975). Nightmare (1963). His subsequent credits have included the stunning blackand-white evocation of Victorian London in David Lynch’s The Elephant Man (1980) and another Oscar for the American Civil War drama Glory (1989). The Skull (1965). Nanny. . such as the various characters visiting a bookshop. macabre inventiveness and visual flair that are more than worthy of the cult status they have achieved for him. Francis effectively abandoned directing to return to cinematography in the 1980s. Vampire Happening (1971). Legend of the Werewolf (1974). They Came from Beyond Space (1967). but his best efforts in the genre have a dark humour. Trog (1970). both rather crude efforts made for Tyburn. along with some quite embarrassingly bad genre items including Craze (1973) and the wretched Trog (1970). Francis was responsible for the first of these with Dr Terror’s House of Horrors (1965). The Creeping Flesh (1972). Dr Terror’s House of Horror (1965). Mumsy. Craze (1973). Vengeance (1962). The Doctor and the Devils (1985). Evil of Frankenstein (1964). and went on to make Torture Garden (1967). such as his adaptation of Dylan Thomas’s screenplay The Doctor and the Devils (1985) and some further work for television. The Psychopath (1966). Sonny and Girly (1969). His work as a director has inevitably been overshadowed by his success as a cinematographer and his reputation hasn’t been helped by the bottom-of-the-barrel nature of some of his weaker horror films. making the rather stylish The Creeping Flesh (1972) with Peter Cushing for Tigon. Son of Dracula (1974). the company established by his son. the latter featuring an elderly Joan Crawford in her last screen role. The Deadly Bees (1966). His prolific output as a director during this period also encompassed work in British television for series like The Saint. Francis also worked on several undistinguished German co-productions including Vengeance (1962) and Traitor’s Gate (1964).
However. 1991). . He made his feature debut with Gumshoe (1971). His first directing credit came with the short film The Burning (1967). Stephen FREARS Chief among Stephen Frears’ attributes are his sensitive handling of actors. Cambridge. set in apartheid South Africa. he joined the Royal Court Theatre in 1964 where he met Karel REISZ and Lindsay ANDERSON. Frears was born on 20 June 1941 in Leicester.stephen frears 71 Bibliography: Wheeler Winston Dixon. After studying law at Trinity College. (1968). and his obvious rapport with writers (he has worked successfully with Alan Bennett. The Films of Freddie Francis (London: Scarecrow Press. Moving into films. these qualities have sometimes worked against him as critics have unfairly seen him as a craftsman rather than an auteur. . he was assistant director to REISZ on Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966) and for ANDERSON on If . whimsical portrait of a bingo caller (Albert Finney) whose dreams of becoming a private detective come all too true. as evidenced in the succession of fine performances that grace his films. particularly a concern for the downtrodden and marginalised. Christopher Hampton and Hanif Kureishi). a wry. and in his best work there is frequently an acerbic view of the condition of contemporary Britain. strong themes do emerge in his work. Oddly. The film already shows Frears’ understated skill with actors and his liking .
Written by Christopher Hampton. John Hurt and Tim Roth. the film is a landmark for British cinema both in its almost casual portrayal of homosexuality and in the realistic depiction of the British Asian community. The Snapper (1993). . This reconstruction of the life of the playwright Joe Orton and his lover Kenneth Halliwell is beautifully played by Gary Oldman and Alfred Molina. More relaxed and successful was Prick Up Your Ears (1987). Brilliantly scripted by Hanif Kureishi. and The Van (1996) are both set in working-class Dublin and portray stunted lives on depressing housing estates without a hint of condescension. an edgy depiction of the underworld of con artists which won him an Oscar nomination as best director. Frears’ success took him to America where he started confidently with Dangerous Liaisons (1988). the film is a remarkably astute depiction of the complexities and inequities of Thatcher’s Britain. Frears made Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987). Unfortunately the big budget Accidental Hero (1992). Frears’ real breakthrough came with the Channel 4 financed My Beautiful Laundrette (1985). He finally returned to the big screen in 1984 with The Hit. with Dustin Hoffman. This included a number of distinguished productions such as the politically motivated Bloody Kids (1979). scripted by Alan Bennett. Working again with Kureishi. The former crackles with authentic dialogue and has a tough humanity whereas the latter seems to strive a little too much for sentimental effect. which lacks the razor sharp observation of their previous collaboration and seems overburdened by good intentions. With warmth and considerable humour. It remains one of the best documents of the period. it is a compelling depiction of the game of seduction as played out by jaded eighteenth-century aristocrats. David Hare’s depiction of the last days of American involvement in Vietnam. and Walter (1982) with Ian McKellan. the first in Channel 4’s Film on Four franchise. a darkly comic thriller set in Spain with neatly etched performances from Terence Stamp. originally made for the BBC for television broadcast but given a theatrical release. depicting the closeted world of gay men in the Britain of the 1960s with sympathy and dry wit. failed at the box office and returned Frears to the UK where he made two films based on Roddy Doyle novels. Frears clearly had an affinity for Bennett’s vision of Englishness as they had collaborated on six television plays in the run up to Prick Up Your Ears. The film proved to be a false start to his cinema career as he spent the next twelve years working in television drama and occasionally in advertising. a much more self-conscious attempt to depict the state of the nation. Saigon: Year of the Cat (1983). He followed it with The Grifters (1990). perhaps his best American film.72 stephen frears for restrained humour. It garnered some excellent reviews from the British press.
Dirty Pretty Things (2002). It tells the story of the Windmill Theatre which never missed a show throughout the Second World War and became famous for flouting censorship laws with its nude tableaux. 1991). The film tackles such familiar themes as unemployment. commercialism and more socially conscious projects. 1995). Reviews were more uneven for the relatively lightweight Mrs Henderson Presents (2005). Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987). Mrs Henderson Presents (2005). The Hit (1984). . is rather more interesting than its reputation allows. The Deal (2003). despite the critical roasting and commercial failure of Mary Reilly (1996). Dirty Pretty Things (2002) was extremely well received. His lack of an overtly recognisable visual signature may not please some critics. Take 10: Contemporary British Film Directors (Oxford: Oxford University Press. film and television. Its story of illegal immigrants in London and the international trade in body parts for surgery feels literally torn from the headlines. This unusual version of the story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The Queen (2006). Jonathan Hacker and David Price. racism and religious prejudice with Frears’ usual eye for gritty detail. Liam (2000). Frears’ career has switched backwards and forwards between Britain and America. British Feature Films: Gumshoe (1971).stephen frears 73 Frears has continued to work intermittently in the United States. His latest film is The Queen (2006). He achieved a stronger critical response with the offbeat contemporary western The Hi-Lo Country (1998) and better commercial results with High Fidelity (2000). which successfully transfers Nick Hornby’s London-set novel to America. He was back on familiar British territory with the social realism of Liam (2000) written by Jimmy McGovern and set in depression-era Liverpool. with Julia Roberts in the title role and again scripted by Christopher Hampton. The Snapper (1993). These qualities have made him an indispensable talent. like his early television film about Tony Blair. contained some of the best writing in recent British cinema and often shown a willingness to reflect the nature of contemporary British society. takes its story right out of the headlines. Prick Up Your Ears (1987). My Beautiful Laundrette (1985). Typically British (London: BFI. which. The Van (1996). but his films have showcased an exceptional gallery of performances. Its willingness to tackle contemporary issues through a sympathetically human drama is very typical of Frears’ approach. Bibliography: Charles Barr and Stephen Frears.
but features the only straight performance by the great comedian Will Hay. He made his directorial debut at Ealing with The Big Blockade (1942). Sussex on 21 November 1909. The Foreman Went to France (1942) is thoroughly engaging in its mix of drama (the air attack on a group of fleeing refugees is genuinely gripping) and cheerful good humour. The film is a fairly typical Ealing wartime propaganda piece in their familiar semi-documentary style. He made four further films during the war. tight-lipped and undemonstrative but resolutely assured in his moral certainty. where he was film reviewer for the student magazine Isis. moving on to Gaumont-British in 1933. one of four glossy productions by MGM-British. Charles Frend was educated at Kings School. Frend’s characteristic work frequently celebrates traditional aspects of British life. Many of the same qualities are also evident in The . Canterbury and then at Oxford. John Mills is the epitome of a certain kind of British hero. The film benefits considerably from Vaughan Williams’s score. directing a further twelve films for the studio. He entered the industry as an assistant editor at British International Pictures in 1931. working with Alfred Hitchcock on four films including Sabotage (1936) and with the American director Sam Wood on the populist Goodbye Mr Chips (1939). This is certainly apparent in the romantic period drama The Loves of Joanna Godden (1947) where the director seems as interested in the detail of farming life on Romney Marshes as he is by the central love story. who appears frequently in Frend’s films. unconvincing attempt to emphasise the need for postwar friendship between Britain and France. Johnny Frenchman (1945) is a rather heavy-handed. all of them following Ealing’s pattern of combining propaganda content with social realism. but where the focus is really on the everyday life of the village which he serves. Perhaps more surprising is the visual beauty of the film. Frend had found his spiritual home at Ealing where he remained for the next fifteen years. with its snowscapes reflecting the characters’ emotional isolation. The documentary The Return of the Vikings (1944) was made for the exiled Norwegian government which subsequently rewarded Frend with the Order of St Olav for his services to their cause. This quality is also there in the modest Lease of Life (1954) which depicts the last year in the life of a dying vicar (Robert Donat). In comparison. the latter provided by the likeable Tommy Trinder. San Demetrio London (1943) is a similarly understated and powerful tribute to the heroism of the Merchant Navy. During the 1930s he became one of British cinema’s most respected editors.74 charles frend Charles FREND Born in Pulborough. The heart of Frend’s work can be found in Scott of the Antarctic (1949) with its low-key heroism and self-sacrifice.
The Foreman Went to France (1942). Scott of the Antarctic (1948). with its stiff upper-lipped heroes who remain assured and quietly heroic even when the ship is going down. he worked in Canadian television and then made two minor teen movies. Girl on Approval (1961): The Sky Bike (1967). The Long Arm (1956). which have his familiar clear sense of morality but which added little to his reputation. furie 75 Cruel Sea (1952) where the narrative centres on the camaraderie of the male crew of a warship and on the human cost of conflict. The Magnet (1950). was made for the Children’s Film Foundation. He also made two further feature films. Johnny Frenchman (1945). The Magnet (1950) and Barnacle Bill (1957). but they still possess their fair share of charm and A Run for Your Money gets a decent amount of fun out of its story of two Welsh innocents up in London for a rugby international. Cone of Silence (1960) and Girl on Approval (1961). In comparison with the finest of Ealing’s comedies these are relatively minor pieces that tend towards the whimsical end of the studio’s output rather than their more acerbic black farces. Canada on 28 February 1933. Lease of Life (1954). San Demetrio London (1943). A Run for Your Money (1949). Like Scott of the Antarctic. Return of the Vikings (1944). Jack Hawkins plays another of Frend’s stoic leaders who must face the sometimes tragic consequences of his decisions. although he subsequently worked as a second unit director. The Loves of Joanna Godden (1947). He died on 8 January 1977. Cone of Silence (1960). but there is much that is quintessentially British here. the film rises above the predictable plotting to be genuinely moving. FURIE Sidney Furie was born in Toronto. Even the understated simplicity of his direction seems to mirror national characteristics and easily can obscure the fact that his films are always crisply edited and frequently have an eye for visual spectacle. The Cruel Sea (1952). the self-financed A . After studying at the Carnegie Institute of Theatre. Frend also made three comedies for Ealing: A Run for Your Money (1949). including on David LEAN’s Ryan’s Daughter (1970). It’s easy enough to mock Frend’s work. The Sky Bike (1967).sidney j. Frend moved into television working on such popular 1960s adventure series as Danger Man and Man in a Suitcase. His final film as director. British Feature Films: The Big Blockade (1942). Sidney J. With the demise of Ealing. Barnacle Bill (1957). Few directors have been as consistent in their appreciation for a modest integrity and sense of honour seen as intrinsic parts of a national cultural identity.
Furie’s films of the early 1960s. He had already touched on the genre with During One Night (1961). with the world of secret agents depicted as largely dreary routine. if over-directed western The Appaloosa (1966) with Marlon Brando. One part offers a downbeat. Its cliche ´ s are certainly dated now. The film’s rather showy use of flashback was an indication of the kind of directorial flourishes with which Furie was later to become heavily associated. The deserved success of the film took Furie to Hollywood where he has largely remained since. combines a conventional putting-on-a-show narrative with a plea for greater understanding of the lives of young people. including the ludicrous horror films Dr Blood’s Coffin (1960) and The Snake Woman (1961). The Leather Boys is rather more interesting as an attempt to deal sympathetically with the then topical and controversial issue of homosexuality. are at least an interesting reflection of public concerns of the time. Michael Caine’s Harry Palmer. the film develops the fashionable stylisation of his earlier comedy Three on a Spree (1961) and features many examples of Furie’s fetish for placing the camera behind various objects which partially obscure the view. Wonderful Life (1964) is cheerful and zany. The film is a fascinating mixture of contradictory elements. with his NHS spectacles and penchant for supermarket shopping. Furie cashed in on the popularity of the ‘social problem’ films of the period with The Boys (1962) and the unfortunately titled The Leather Boys (1963). He hit box office success with two vehicles for Britain’s premier pop star of the moment. ranging from the thoughtful. The Boys includes another statement on behalf of misunderstood youth via a contrived courtroom drama about four lads accused of murder. On the other hand. for all their showiness and commerciality. which won a BAFTA as Best British Film. realistic antidote to the fantasies of the Bond films. His American output was initially uneven. but unfortunately drains Richard of any connotations of youth rebellion or sexuality which his following might have implied. Richard’s film debut. the odd story of an impotent Second World War American airman. to the blaxploitation-style violence of Hit! (1973) and the . but thoroughly routine – a sort of tame British equivalent to the already limp Elvis Presley vehicles coming from America. Furie gained his first international success with The Ipcress File (1965). The Young Ones (1961). became an iconic working-class hero appearing in two sequels. Furie moved to the UK in 1960 and became a reliable and prolific director of low-budget exploitation fare. adapted from Len Deighton’s spy thriller. furie Dangerous Age (1958) and the beat movie A Cool Sound from Hell (1959).76 sidney j. particularly about young people. but there is a frankness and lack of condescension in its handling of the subject. Cliff Richard.
Lady Sings the Blues (1972). He moved behind the camera to become an assistant director in the late 1930s and then during the Second World War was seconded from the RAF Film Unit to the US Air Corps Film Unit. His recent work is strictly that of a jobbing director and has little hint of the talent he showed in his British work when. Wonderful Life (1964). Three on a Spree (1961). During the 1950s Gilbert steadily built his commercial reputation by specialising in two popular genres. are by turns luridly sensationalist and sentimentally old fashioned. Gilbert came into cinema as a child actor and had appeared in more than seventy films by 1938. The Snake Woman (1961). he joined Gaumont-British Instructional Films where he made short documentaries. In the crime genre he produced the first British ‘X’ film with the joyfully lurid Cosh Boy (1953). The Young Ones (1961). as well as to make straight-to-video features and a number of films in Canada. During One Night (1961). is distinguished only by a barrage of Furie’s manic directorial mannerisms. Half a dozen poverty-row ‘B’ movies followed before he moved towards mainstream respectability with the entertaining POW drama Albert RN (1953). G Lewis GILBERT Born in Hackney. Coming from two generations of music hall performers. British Feature Films: Dr Blood’s Coffin (1960). what personality Furie had brought to his films evaporated in a series of strictly routine studio products including three entries in the series of aerial action films Iron Eagle (1986–95) and the fourth in the Superman franchise. Lewis Gilbert has had a long and varied career in British cinema. His two biopics. The Ipcress File (1965). and Gable and Lombard (1976). a downbeat caper . the crime film and the nostalgic Second World War drama. His feature film debut came with the modest children’s film The Little Ballerina (1947). After being invalided out of the services in 1944.lewis gilbert 77 crude gung-ho heroics of The Boys in Company C (1978). with Diana Ross as Billie Holiday. London on 6 March 1920. He has continued to work in television. for a time in the 1960s. The Leather Boys (1963). he seemed to have a remarkably astute eye for contemporary trends in youth culture and an exuberant style to match. The Boys (1962). Subsequently. The Naked Runner (1967). His only British film of the period. the meretricious spy thriller The Naked Runner (1967) with Frank Sinatra.
is undeniably an iconic movie of the Swinging Sixties. Further commercial success followed with the first of Gilbert’s three Bond outings. Star Warsinfluenced Moonraker (1979). his greatest success came with his war films and particularly the phenomenally popular Reach for the Sky (1956) which tells the moving story of the pilot Douglas Bader (Kenneth More) who lost both legs in a flying accident but managed to return to active duty in the war. The Greengage Summer (1961) offers a comingof-age drama with the young Susannah York which must have seemed dated even on its release. the first an amusing account of Alfie’s hedonistic. but no one could refute the film’s ability to hit a nerve with audiences. M. However. Gilbert’s films of the late 1950s and early 1960s are much less cohesive and veer around in tone and content. His most interesting film of this period is The Admirable Crichton (1957) based on J. the film retains enough of the play’s commentary on class to be effective and Moore is unusually acerbic. this time as the manservant who turns the tables on his employer when they are stranded on a desert island. Barrie’s play and again featuring Kenneth More. adapted from Bill Naughton’s play. Ferry to Hong Kong (1959) and The Seventh Dawn (1964) are poorly acted blockbusters aimed at an international market. Gilbert’s biggest hit came with Alfie (1966). It’s a film of two distinct halves. The abortion scene. the turgid The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and the more tongue-in-cheek. Although sentimental and slightly overwhelmed by the photogenic backgrounds. Seen now. Despite the impressive set used for the finale and the Japanese locations. while HMS Defiant (1962) is a rather wooden variation on Mutiny on the Bounty. is still powerfully moving. More appears again in the neatly effective Sink the Bismark! (1960) which emphasises character as strongly as patriotic action. Similar qualities are to be found in Carve Her Name with Pride (1958) which made Virginia McKenna a star in the role of the wartime spy Violette Szabo and which provides another understated celebration of British courage. The international impact of Alfie took Gilbert to America for the .78 lewis gilbert movie The Good Die Young (1954) with Laurence Harvey and Cast a Dark Shadow (1955). as well as being a landmark for frankness in British cinema. this is a formulaic addition to the series. an atmospheric suspenser with Dirk Bogarde cast against type as a wife-murderer. memorably played by Michael Caine complete with direct address to the camera. You Only Live Twice (1967). Its tale of a cockney Lothario. misogynist lifestyle and the second a sort of moral comeuppance in which he finds that one of his ‘birds’ has replaced him with a younger model. the relentless stoicism and cheeriness of More is inadvertently annoying and not entirely convincing. as are Gilbert’s later Bond entries.
You Only Live Twice (1967). He showed a much surer touch in the 1980s returning to intrinsically British subjects. Julie Walters and Pauline Collins. If Gilbert has sometimes seemed the proficient craftsman turning out solid mainstream films rather than an auteur pursuing his personal vision. The Scarlet Thread (1951). Albert RN (1953). then this is especially true of his 1970s output. the decade saw him make the sentimental teenage romance Friends (1971) and its sequel Paul and Michelle (1974). Carve Her Name With Pride (1958). A Cry from the Streets (1958). Alfie (1966). Sink the Bismarck! (1960). There is Another Sun (1951). if not always marked by high artistic individualism. Reach for the Sky (1956). Light Up the Sky! (1960). Seven Nights in Japan (1976). Time Gentleman Please! (1952). Haunted (1995). Friends (1971). Educating Rita (1983). to Haunted (1995). Before You Go (2002). feelgood movie with Liza Minnelli and Julie Walters. Shirley Valentine (1989).lewis gilbert 79 glossy excesses of The Adventurers (1970). Moonraker (1979). An Autobiography of British Cinema (London: Methuen. trying to find a way out of the narrow confines placed on them by a maledominated society. The solid professionalism which has distinguished Gilbert’s long career has been acknowledged by a number of prizes including BAFTA’s Michael Balcon Award in 1990 and a BFI Fellowship in 2001. as well as from striking performances by Michael Caine. Paul and Michelle (1974). British Feature Films: Little Ballerina (1947). a putting-on-a-show. The Seventh Dawn (1964). The Admirable Crichton (1957). The Greengage Summer (1961). a rather old fashioned creepy-house ghost story from a James Herbert novel. Gilbert’s recent work continues to be eclectic. Cast a Dark Shadow (1955). 1997). The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). as well as the preposterous Seven Nights in Japan (1976) and the downbeat American-made war drama Operation Daybreak (1975). The Sea Shall Not Have Them (1954). Both Educating Rita (1983) and Shirley Valentine (1989) are based on Willy Russell plays and benefit from his witty one-liners. Johnny on the Run (1953). Once a Sinner (1950). The frustrations of the two female leads. are captured with affection and empathy. This can be seen as recognition by his peers for a lifetime’s work which. Other than his two Bond movies. Cosh Boy (1953). Ferry to Hong Kong (1959). a Harold Robbins adaptation. from the Americanmade Stepping Out (1991). . has often shown a concern for a characteristically British kind of bravery. HMS Defiant (1962). Emergency Call (1952). Bibliography: Brian McFarlane. Not Quite Jerusalem (1984). The Good Die Young (1954).
Terry GILLIAM British cinema can only make a partial claim to Terry Gilliam as he was born in the United States and has made a number of his feature films there. Nonetheless, his quirky individualism, offbeat humour and fascination with the surreal have often found a safer home in British cinema and television than in Hollywood. Gilliam is an unapologetic maverick, frequently at odds with producers and executives. Even so, he has still managed to carve out a body of work which bares his unmistakable signature. His is a unique cinematic vision, anarchic and dreamlike, with something of the child’s unfettered wonder at the strangeness of the world. Gilliam was born in Minneapolis on 22 November 1940 and moved with his family to Los Angeles in 1951. He studied physics at Occidental College, where he also founded and edited the satirical student magazine Fang. After graduation he moved to New York where he had a job as assistant editor for the humorous magazine Help. He then worked in advertising and as a freelance illustrator before moving to London in 1967. Here he established himself in television working on a number of comedy shows before becoming part of the team behind Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Gilliam’s principle contributions to the groundbreaking comedy series were the bizarre cut-out animations which were frequently one of the most memorable features of the programmes. It was through Python that Gilliam made his directorial debut as co-director with Terry Jones of the team’s second feature film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975). Along with the familiar absurdist humour, the film offers a knowing satire of the Arthurian legends and of popular images of the medieval era, both elements that were to reappear in Gilliam’s later films. Although he contributed animation sequences to the other Python films he left the directorial reigns to Terry Jones. His solo career as a director was launched by Jabberwocky (1977), adapted very loosely from Lewis Carroll’s poem. The film bares the marks of Python in its surreal visual comedy and echoes Holy Grail in its debunking of romantic images of medieval England, but adds an additional level of crude slapstick which proved off-putting for audiences. Much more appealing was Time Bandits (1981), the charming story of a boy travelling through time with a band of mischievous dwarfs. The film is full of memorable imagery such as a giant emerging from under the sea and managing to get a sailing ship lodged on the top of his head. Amid the chaos is something more poignant as well, in the figure of the lonely child, ignored by his overly conventional parents, who finds a temporary surrogate father in the part of Agamemnon (Sean Connery).
Escape into the imagination takes on a wholly different and more disturbing aspect in Gilliam’s most impressive film, Brazil (1985). Bearing more than a passing resemblance to Orwell’s 1984, the film paints a dismal image of a future dystopia where a totalitarian state and rampant bureaucracy have sapped its citizens of their spirit. Gilliam’s everyman (Jonathan Pryce) in his fight against the system mirrors the struggles that Gilliam had to maintain control over the film. He was vindicated by the positive reception and awards heaped on the film, which included two Oscar nominations. Clashes with producers were to undermine his last British film to date, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988). Its central character, a teller of tall tales, seems to stand in for Gilliam’s view of the world as a dark place requiring the transformative power of the imagination. The film’s ambitious visual design and special effects ran up its budget to an astronomical degree and the costs were not recovered by its disappointing box office returns. The Fisher King (1991) was Gilliam’s first mainstream American film and appears to have been made under much tighter studio control. Nonetheless, it contains many of Gilliam’s favourite themes in the clash between materialism and the pursuit of a more spiritual way of life, and it has one magical set-piece when travellers in Grand Central Station are suddenly transformed into dancers in an Astaire and Rogers production number. Twelve Monkeys (1995) is another ambitious dystopian fable which managed, like The Fisher King, to balance the director’s personal obsessions with a more accessible, glossy approach. His adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) was probably a case of taking on the impossible, but the film does capture something of the manic, surreal nightmare of the book. Gilliam returned to Europe to make The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, but after a catalogue of serious production problems led the budget to spiral, the film’s financiers pulled out and it was not completed. The documentary Lost in La Mancha (2002, Keith Fulton and Lou Pepe) gives some indication of what might have been. The American-backed The Brothers Grimm (2005), although providing what would seem to be ideal Gilliam material, was a disappointment and took a critical hammering. Gilliam’s difficulty has frequently been that the epic productions he plans require the backing of major Hollywood producers, which then lead to inevitable compromises which have diluted the distinctive flavour of his work. The sheer idiosyncrasy of his films tends to invite interference from anxious producers while offering considerable pleasure to his legions of fans who long for the unadulterated subversiveness of the real thing. Unfortunately, the dark fantasy of his most recent film, Tideland (2006), seems to have proved too much even for them.
jack gold British Feature Films: Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975, codirected with Terry Jones); Jabberwocky (1977); Time Bandits (1981); Brazil (1985); The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988). Bibliography: Bob McCabe, Dark Knights and Holy Fools (London: Orion, 1999); Ian Christie (ed.), Gilliam on Gilliam (London: Faber & Faber, 1999).
For Sidney GILLIAT, see Frank LAUNDER Jack GOLD Jack Gold was born on 28 June 1930 in London. After graduating from the University of London with a degree in law and economics, he joined the BBC where he became an editor on the influential news programme Tonight. Moving into directing and producing, he made a large number of documentaries and fictional pieces for television during the 1960s, frequently with a strongly political angle. He had made a short cinema film called The Visit for the BFI in 1959, but he didn’t direct his first feature film until The Bofors Gun in 1968. An expansion of John McGrath’s television play, it has something of the same anti-establishment tone as his best television work in its depiction of the largely futile activities of an army unit guarding an unused heavy gun in peacetime. The film benefits greatly from the intense performances of David Warner as the well-meaning but ineffectual officer and Nicol Williamson as a rebellious but increasingly violent enlisted man. Williamson is also highly impressive in The Reckoning (1969), again scripted by McGrath, a tough portrait of the brutalities of the corporate business world which is handled with an economy and sense of purpose which testify to Gold’s training in actuality television. Gold’s left-wing sympathies are apparent in much of his 1970s output. The National Health (1973) is a bleak comedy adapted from Peter Nichols’ stage play. It contrasts the chronic underfunding of an NHS ward with imagined scenes from a glamorous hospital soap opera. The casting of Jim Dale, and the film’s mordant humour, led to it being dubbed by critics as ‘Carry On Death’. Man Friday (1975) re-examines Daniel Defoe’s classic novel from the viewpoint of Robinson Crusoe’s manservant and offers a critique of imperialist attitudes. Aces High (1976) successfully transfers R. C. Sherriff’s anti-war play from the trenches to the aerial dogfights of the First World War. In contrast, The Medusa Touch (1978) is a much more commercial project, with Richard Burton’s charismatic presence adding some gravitas to its supernatural plot about a man who seems to have the mental capacity to
cause disasters wherever he travels. The Sailor’s Return (1978) centres on more familiar social themes in its depiction of the discrimination experienced by a Victorian sailor who returns to Britain with a black wife. The film did not receive a theatrical release and first came to light on television in 1980. Most of Gold’s work since the beginning of the 1980s has been for television. A good deal of this has been considerably more routine than his earlier work (Shakespeare for the BBC, the courtroom drama series Kavanagh QC for independent television), but it does include the immensely popular, albeit blatantly sentimental, Goodnight Mister Tom (1998) featuring one of his favourite actors, John Thaw. He also directed Thaw in the final episode of Inspector Morse in which the muchloved character was finally laid to rest. Nothing in his more recent television work quite matches up to the memory of The Naked Civil Servant (1975), a wonderfully funny, sympathetic portrait of Quentin Crisp with a superbly camp central performance from John Hurt. His only feature film since the 1970s is the slight house-moving comedy The Chain (1984) which is engaging enough, but certainly looks more like another expanded television play than a really cinematic project. Gold’s immersion in television has been both to the benefit and detriment of his cinema work. On the negative side is the lack of visual flair exhibited by films which often seem small on the big screen. On the positive side, there is the sensitive handling of loyal actors, the realism and the sense of political commitment which was fostered in the public service ethos of British television in the 1960s and 1970s. British Feature Films: The Bofors Gun (1968); The Reckoning (1969); The National Health (1973); Who? (1974); Man Friday (1975); Aces High (1976); The Sailor’s Return (1978); The Medusa Touch (1978); The Chain (1984). Peter GREENAWAY Peter Greenaway has cut a very particular pathway through British cinema. Adamantly opposed to conventional narrative and entertainment values, his films explore the formal possibilities of the medium often utilising the latest technology to push at existing boundaries. His subjects are also frequently controversial and have sometimes outraged, but throughout his work there is a single-minded dedication to the cinema as an intellectual and aesthetic medium. Born in Newport, Wales on 5 April 1942, he studied painting at Walthamstow College of Art before joining the Central Office of Information in 1965. Here he worked as an editor on public informa-
peter greenaway tion films. With regular support from the BFI he produced a large number of short films during the 1960s and the first half of the 1970s. These films, such as Dear Phone (1977), Water Wrackets (1978) and A Walk Through H (1978), resemble documentaries, but Greenaway subverts their apparent realism, highlighting the artifice behind their construction. Frequently using a voice-over, they offer narratives that go nowhere and construct endless lists of seemingly random information. The results have an almost hypnotic fascination, full of baffling detail and mordant humour; they seem to suggest the futility of trying to make sense of the world through narrative structures. His one feature film of this period is The Falls (1980), an experimental threehour work which provides biographies of ninety-two people whose names start with the word ‘Fall’. Greenaway’s first mainstream feature, The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982), was part financed by Channel 4 and achieved a degree of art house success. Set in the seventeenth century, it is a visually ravishing film depicting the relationship between an artist and his aristocratic employer. Full of narrative ambiguities and playful stylisation, it offers a puzzle without solution while raising questions about power and the social role of the artist. It also benefits greatly from Michael Nyman’s score; Greenaway’s other regular collaborators have included cinematographer Sacha Vierny and the Dutch producer Kees Kesander who has consistently supported/indulged him. A Zed and Two Noughts (1985) didn’t generate the same appeal. It returns to the style of his short films in its near abstract fascination with mirror images and duality (the central characters are twins), as well as with attempts to catalogue the world. The Belly of an Architect (1987) is more accessible, with a fine central performance from Brian Dennehy as the American architect organising an exhibition in Rome. Familiar themes reappear, such as the relationship between artists and their patrons, but are given greater warmth by Dennehy’s characteristion. Drowning by Numbers (1988) tells of three women who murder their husbands by drowning them. Themes of mortality and the power of nature are placed against Greenaway’s continuing fascination with human efforts to order reality, expressed here in the use of numbers. The film itself unreels to a numerical count to one hundred on screen. The film’s striking visuals and black humour won it a wider art house audience. Greenaway’s greatest commercial success came with The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989) which was widely interpreted as a political commentary on the materialism and greed engendered by the Thatcher administration. This is conveyed in the character of the ignorant, brutal ‘thief’ brilliantly played by Michael Gambon. The film
an area of increasing interest to Greenaway. but with hindsight the more troubling aspect is the film’s snobbery. He achieved further art house success with the highly referential Prospero’s Books (1991). calligraphy and superimposition. but that pre-eminence has diminished with much of his subsequent work. The Tulse Luper Suitcases (2003–4) is an ongoing project with many individual sections which can be accessed in a variety of formats. he is a rare voice in British cinema. The Pillow Book (1996) returns to Prospero’s Books in its attempts to use new technology to reinvent the visual space of cinema through split-screen images. a film which found very few supporters. Greenaway has often divided critical opinion. . The meditation on language and meaning is seductive. and his attempts to capture the world by recording its contents in his books. its theatrical sets. Accusations of misogyny resurfaced with 8½ Women (1999). For his critics there is more than a whiff of the emperor’s new clothes about him. the artist as magician. his films combine a concern for film aesthetics (that owes little to realism or narrative cinema) with self-reflexive meditations on the nature of art (and cinema) itself. striking costumes by Jean-Paul Gaultier and near operatic score by Michael Nyman. compounded by what they see as his obsession with nudity and violence.peter greenaway 85 offers plenty to engage the eye and mind. a satire on organised religion which also takes in an examination of the nature of audiences. Greenaway’s most recent work has moved outside of conventional cinema into utilising DVD and CD-ROM technology to produce interactive. Perhaps because of commercial disinterest in his work or through a desire for greater freedom. Greenaway’s objection to Thatcherism appears to be that it enabled uneducated plebs to get rich quick and gain entry to the halls of culture only previously open to those with the ‘good taste’ to appreciate it. his free adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest featuring John Gielgud. collaborative work. The books themselves are rendered with the aid of computer technology. closer to traditions in European art cinema and the avant-garde. The ugliness of its most violent sequences shocked some. with its startling use of colour to mark the different areas of the restaurant. Its full version currently runs to nine hours. By this time he had firmly established himself as a leading figure in British art cinema. For supporters. The Baby of Macon (1993). but could be expanded with more additions. Greenaway is less interested in the play than in the figure of Prospero. but the film is open to criticisms of orientalism in its depictions of the sensuous East. alienated many with its repellent multiple rape sequence and gave fresh fuel to critics who accuse him of pretentiousness and obfuscation.
he spent part of his childhood in India and began his career as an actor on stage as well as in films. The sequel. 1996). another surprisingly thoughtful monster film with a fine performance from Peter Cushing and eerily atmospheric snowscapes. Drowning by Numbers (1988). The Films of Peter Greenaway (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. an amiable farce with Frankie Howerd. The Cook. . producer and composer. Amy Lawrence. Born on 11 December 1911 in London as Valmond Guest. The Thief. The Pillow Book (1996). variation on the Frankenstein theme. The Baby of Macon (1993). MS: University of Mississippi. including some of the best vehicles for Will Hay. its popularity convincing them to shift into the horror genre. Life with the Lyons (1954). Being Naked Playing Dead: The Art of Peter Greenaway (Manchester: Manchester University Press. 2000). he returned to cinema in 1935 as a scriptwriter at Gainsborough. started Guest’s association with Hammer which eventually led to The Quatermass Experiment (1955). The Belly of an Architect (1987). Over the next seven years he built a reputation as an outstanding writer of music hall-style comedies. this time from Nigel Kneale’s science fiction serial. After a period working as a journalist. the film overcomes its low budget to produce a genuinely tense. writer. His feature debut as director was with an Arthur Askey comedy Miss London Ltd (1943). His Wife and Her Lover (1989). Quatermass II (1957).86 val guest British Feature Films: The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982). The Tulse Luper Suitcases (2003–04). Another television adaptation. Peter Greenaway Interviews (Jackson. Val GUEST Few British directors can boast a longer or more prolific career than Val Guest. Among his more interesting efforts are the satirical comedy Mr Drake’s Duck (1950). Alan Woods. Prospero’s Books (1991). A Zed and Two Noughts (1985). 8½ Women (1999). featuring the American actress Yolande Donlan who was to become his second wife. and The Runaway Bus (1954). Bibliography: Vernon Gras and Marguerite Gras (eds). the first of two routine spin-offs from the popular television comedy series. Along with The Abominable Snowman (1957). is equally taughtly handled and ranks among the best British examples of the Cold War paranoia genre. For the next ten years he was a jobbing director churning out fairly undistinguished genre fare for a variety of British studios. The film was a landmark for the studio. and even touching. His fifty years in the industry saw him take part in over eighty films including credits as director. 1997).
The crime dramas Hell Is a City (1959) and Jigsaw (1962) set their police investigations against the backdrop of a drab. Unusually. at the end of the 1950s he managed to capture a vivid impression of a dreary. He died on 10 May 2006. epitomises all that was superficial and self-indulgent in Swinging London pop culture. It was a tame end to Guest’s career. the narrative unfolds as it is reported by the journalists of a London newspaper office. In a series of memorable films. as well as providing a vivid impression of contemporary Soho. In these films a lean. a vehicle for the bland comedians Cannon and Ball which looked dated even on its release. anxious postwar Britain on the cusp of radical change. He was one of many directors on the James Bond spoof Casino Royale (1967) which. He made a belated return to Hammer for the silly but likeable fantasy of When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1969). but nothing can really redeem the depressing inanities of the sexploitation comedies Au Pair Girls (1972) and Confessions of a Window Cleaner (1974). His subsequent output until the mid-1980s is mainly routine television work. purposeful directorial style is combined with intelligent scripting to produce work with higher ambitions. In his best films he surpassed the limitations of genre formula and restricted budgets to produce work of real interest. . Guest combined populist genre elements with social commentary and low-key realism. Guest exhibits his characteristic ability to bring out the tensions just under the mundane surface of everyday British life in these films. while Yesterday’s Enemy (1959) is an effective anti-war film. like Where the Spies Are (1965). Despite such aberrations as Hammer’s crudely exploitative The Camp on Blood Island (1958) and formulaic comedies like Up the Creek (1958). His neat. decaying urban Britain. amusing critique of Britain’s developing pop music scene which makes remarkably good use of Laurence Harvey and Cliff Richard. with the exception of a few middling comedies including The Boys in Blue (1983). Guest entered his best period as a film-maker in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Expresso Bongo (1959) is an acerbic. but one that still reflected his extraordinary work ethic. In The Beauty Jungle (1964) the seamy world of beauty pageants and glamour modelling is uncovered. whereas contemporary angst is again the subtext of 80. In particular.val guest 87 these films show Guest’s real strengths. in which the earth is thrown off its axis by the testing of nuclear weapons.000 Suspects (1963) with its story of the hunt for a deadly virus. His later work unfortunately shows a clear decline. Cold War anxieties surface again in the compelling The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961). economic direction maximises tension while providing plenty of room for character development and the use of allegory.
When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1969). The Lyons in Paris (1955). The Boys in Blue (1983). but soon began making animated shorts together and in 1940 founded their own animation company. William Comes to Town (1948). They initially worked together in graphic design. The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961). Miss Pilgrim’s Progress (1949). I’ll Be Your Sweetheart (1945). Joy Batchelor (born in Watford on 22 May 1914) answered his advertisement for an assistant. but this is probably the only one where the partners were married to each other. Break in the Circle (1955). Life Is a Circus (1958). Ken Hughes. They Can’t Hang Me (1955). Confessions of a Window Cleaner (1974). Expresso Bongo (1959). Jigsaw (1962). The Runaway Bus (1954). Mr Drake’s Duck (1950). The Full Treatment (1960). Toomorrow (1970).88 john halas and joy batchelor British Feature Films: Miss London Ltd (1943). Penny Princess (1952). Further Up the Creek (1958). Yesterday’s Enemy (1959). Up the Creek (1958). The Abominable Snowman (1957). Give Us the Moon (1944). The Body Said No! (1950). So You Want To Be In Pictures? (London: Reynolds & Hearn. The Camp on Blood Island (1958).000 Suspects (1963). The Quatermass Experiment (1955). Quatermass II (1957). was born in Budapest. Dangerous Davies – The Last Detective (1981). The Weapon (1956). The Shillingbury Blowers (1980). The Men of Sherwood Forest (1954). Bibliography: Val Guest. Bees in Paradise (1944). Assignment K (1968). It’s a Wonderful World (1956). Casino Royale (1967. When he came to Britain in 1936. British cinema has also secured an international reputation for animation. Life with the Lyons (1954). Au Pair Girls (1972). . Dance Little Lady (1954). Hungary on 16 April 1912. 2001). the foundations of that tradition lie in the work of this husband and wife team. Just William’s Luck (1947). The Diamond Mercenaries (1975). Halas-Batchelor Cartoon Films. Murder at the Windmill (1949). They were married the same year. Carry on Admiral (1957). The Beauty Jungle (1964). Robert Parrish and Joe McGrath). He began his career there working with the future Hollywood special effects wizard George Pal. co-directed with John Huston. John Halas. Where the Spies Are (1965). H John HALAS and Joy BATCHELOR British cinema has had more than its fair share of directorial duos. 80. Hell Is a City (1959). birth name Ja ´ nos Ha ´ la ´ sz.
After the war they continued to take commissions from government departments for public education films. By far their most ambitious work was an adaptation of George Orwell’s allegory of communist Russia. undemanding cartoon series for children including The Jackson Five (1971) and The Osmonds (1972).john halas and joy batchelor 89 The company began by making commercials for clients like Kelloggs but was quickly recruited by the Ministry of Information to make propaganda shorts for the war effort. Animal Farm (1954). both of which betray the influence of the American studio UPA in their pared-down style. has a whimsical charm. It took three years to make and was the first feature-length cartoon made in Britain. but which dispenses with their reliance on sentiment and knockabout humour. John Halas became something of a public champion for animation. In the 1970s the studio was sold to Tyne Tees Television and made a series of popular. As the largest animation unit working in Britain. including Filling the Gap (1941) which encouraged the public to make better use of their gardens by growing vegetables. Two interesting series for television followed in the 1960s. initially as the first Chairman of . Tales of Hoffnung (1964). Employing a visual style that is clearly influenced by Disney. They produced over seventy of these engaging films. they began to branch out in the 1950s employing a variety of techniques. These shorts show Halas and Batchelor moving away from the fully realised. smoothly pictorial style of Animal Farm into something rather leaner and more experimental. Towards the end of their career together they moved back into more adventurous work using computer technology and engaged in a number of European co-productions. even if the ending offers a much more affirmative message about revolution than Orwell’s sombre warning of the dangers of totalitarianism. the film tackles its very adult themes head on. whereas the Foo-Foo (1960) cartoons for the American broadcaster ABC have the naive quality of early animation in their simplified figures. They made similar films for the American government to promote their postwar policies for European cooperation and economic recovery. although The Count of Monte Cristo (1973) managed a good deal of romantic panache. This is particularly apparent in two satirical animations about the impact of the automobile. a curmudgeon who needs to have the advantages of the welfare state explained to him. Automania 2000 (1963). made for the BBC and adapted from Gerald Hoffnung’s caricatures. and Cars of the Future (1969). from puppets in The Figurehead (1953) to 3D effects in The Owl and the Pussycat (1952). which was nominated for an Oscar. Among these were the series featuring ‘Charley’.
again featured Googie Withers as the barmaid trying to lead poor Gordon Jackson astray. one or two of its directors broke away from Balcon’s ethos to produce work with a more personal.90 robert hamer the British Animation Group and then as President of the International Animated Film Association (ASIFA). but subsequently went into the film industry as an assistant editor with Gaumont-British in 1934. After a brief stint with the GPO Film Unit. Joy Batchelor died in London on 14 May 1991 and her husband followed her four years later on 21 January 1995. From there he moved to KORDA’s London Films and then on to Mayflower. individual quality. Michael Balcon. Roger Manvell. He was sent down from Cambridge. the company formed by German producer Erich Pommer and British actor Charles Laughton. Art and Animation: The Story of Halas and Batchelor Animation Studio 1940–1980 (Keynsham: Clive Farrow. His first feature. where he edited Jamaica Inn (1939). but who left a small. . portraying a claustrophobic world of Victorian conformity almost undone by unbridled desire. 1980). deeply impressive body of work behind him. they are still the most important animators that Britain has produced. He made his debut as a director with the ‘Haunted Mirror’ section for the portmanteau horror film Dead of Night (1945). Occasionally. Their work together bridged the accessibility of Disney’s populism with the quirky individualism of European traditions in animation and frequently gave expression to their liberal. This is certainly true of Robert Hamer. Pink String and Sealing Wax (1946). It is one of the most disturbing stories in the film. 1987). humanistic outlook. British Feature Films: Animal Farm (1954). Notwithstanding Aardman. a tragic figure in the history of British cinema whose career ended early due to alcoholism. Alfred HITCHCOCK’s last British picture before departing for Hollywood. Bibliography: John Halas. son of the actor Gerald Hamer. Ruddigore (1966). Robert HAMER The output of Ealing Studios tended to be dominated by the house style imposed by its head. he was recruited by Ealing where he was employed initially as an editor and then as an associate producer. Hamer was born on 31 March 1911 in Kidderminster. The film manages a similar atmosphere to ‘The Haunted Mirror’. taking a well-worn theme and investing it with a sense of the danger lying underneath the surface of bourgeois life. Masters of Animation (London: BBC Books.
he made The Long Memory (1952) for producer Hugh Stewart. as it is in Chesterton’s hero. He returned to Ealing for one final film.robert hamer 91 Set in London’s working-class East End and centring on the story of a bored wife who gives shelter to her former lover (now an escaped convict). an intermittently fascinating adaptation from Daphne du Maurier with Guinness this time playing a holidaymaker tricked into taking on another’s man’s identity. Struggling to find suitable film projects in the mid-1950s – To Paris with Love (1955) is an insubstantial comedy again with Alec Guinness – he turned instead to television making A Month in the Country (1955). the disappointingly stagey comedy His Excellency (1951) which. Unable to gain Balcon’s approval for any further projects. K. he made The Spider and the Fly (1950) back at the revamped Mayflower. Alec Guinness is the priest turned detective. Alec Guinness is suitably outlandish playing all eight victims (one of them female) and the film still seems remarkably modern in both its critique of class and its liberated attitude towards sex. but the film is as concerned with the moral salvation of his arch-enemy. but Hamer takes it in a different direction. played sympathetically by Peter Finch. literate script and suitably disdainful performance from Dennis Price as Louis. Chesterton’s short stories. is Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949). adapted from G. Hamer’s melancholy is even apparent in the understated Father Brown (1954). The last cinema film he completed was The Scapegoat (1958). the poor relation of the grand D’Ascoyne family who murders his way towards the family inheritance. John Mills is slightly unlikely as the ex-convict seeking revenge after serving time for a crime he didn’t commit. With its witty. the film adopts a uniquely taciturn attitude towards its dark subject matter. After a number of possible projects had been rejected by Balcon. the film is visually striking with more attention paid to creating a gloomy mood than in naturalistic observation. with its story of a three-sided relationship (often a feature of his films) set against the backdrop of France just before the outbreak of the First World War. a touching adaptation of Turgenev for the independent company Rediffusion. It scored a considerable commercial and critical success. stars Eric Portman. The pessimistic undercurrent in Hamer’s work is most obvious here. With Googie Withers again in the lead. It Always Rains on Sunday (1947) might be expected to be a standard piece of Ealing social realism. The film’s potential was certainly hampered . Hamer’s undisputed masterpiece. but Hamer invests the film with his now familiar fatalism and makes striking use of the setting on a barge and of the dreary mudflats at Gravesend for the final chase. as with his previous film. voted sixth in a BFI poll of the best British films.
British Feature Films: Dead of Night (1945. the small group of films he directed indicates a film-maker of real substance. The Scapegoat (1958). there is a detectable strain of melancholy in his work which invests even his comedies with an underlying depth of emotion and pathos. he went back into the industry. rising to first assistant director. although he completed a couple of assignments as a scriptwriter before succumbing to his addiction. one segment). It Always Rains on Sunday (1947).92 guy hamilton by post-production cutting by its American backers. where he occasionally doubled for Orson Welles in long shots. His Excellency (1951). completed by Cyril Frankel). Pink String and Sealing Wax (1945). The Long Memory (1952). Nonetheless. Father Brown (1954). ‘The Long Shadow: Robert Hamer after Ealing’. Alastair Sim and TerryThomas are perfectly judged. Guy Hamilton’s long cinema career began modestly as a clapperboy at the Victorine Studios in France in 1938. working on such notable projects as The Third Man (1949) for Carol REED. The Spider and the Fly (1949). typified by his visual panache as well as by a mordantly humorous view of British manners and methods. as well as by disputes Hamer had with the author and his star. With the outbreak of war he returned to Britain where he worked briefly at Paramount’s film library before joining the Royal Navy. To Paris with Love (1955). Charles Drazin. British Cinema of the 1950s: A Celebration (Manchester: Manchester University Press. and The African Queen (1951) with the American director John Huston. in Ian MacKillop and Neil Sinyard (eds). After the war. Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949). There is still much to admire in the film’s comic take on the cruelties of the British class system and the performances by Ian Carmichael. He died on 4 December 1963 at St Thomas’s Hospital in London. He didn’t direct again. Bibliography: Philip Kemp. He made his . The break-up of his second marriage and his own confused sexuality may have contributed to his descent into chronic alcoholism. he had to be replaced while shooting School for Scoundrels (1959). It was a tragic end to a career that should have delivered so much more. School for Scoundrels (1959. The Finest Years: British Cinema of the 1940s (London: Andre ´ Deutsch. 2003). 1998). Even without knowing his life story. Guy HAMILTON Born on 16 September 1922 in Paris but educated in England.
The best of an indifferent bunch include Charley Moon (1956). He had already handled large-scale action sequences on the American-backed war film The Best of Enemies (1961). providing a downbeat. As well as the usual exotic locations. B. Moore brought broader humour to his first Bond. He reached an early high point with The Colditz Story (1955). released 1965). He was to return to Bond three more times. Hamilton also made the second in the Harry Palmer spy series. a passable musical vehicle for Max Bygraves. The Devil’s Disciple (1959). Goldfinger (1964). beautiful girls and spectacular stunts. A low point was reached with The Party’s Over (1963. and much cut about by the British censor. Diamonds Are Forever (1971) marks the slightly desultory final appearance of Connery in the role. a successful adaptation of a thriller by Edgar Wallace. starring Donald Wolfit. lightweight replacement. grittier take on 1960s Cold War anxieties. Outside of the Bond movies. which promoted him into the arena of big-budget international movies. an urbane comedy with James Mason. but the decisive moment in Hamilton’s career. The film’s strengths lie in its authentic detail and its willingness not to water down the more tragic elements in its story. a rather hysterical attack on the immorality of Swinging London disowned by its producer. and A Touch of Larceny (1959). with its threadbare attempt to cash in on the contemporary audience taste for martial arts. an effective version of J. but The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) was the weakest entry in the series to date. Rank. Funeral in Berlin (1966).guy hamilton 93 directorial debut with The Ringer (1952). whereas Live and Let Die (1973) successfully introduced his new. Priestley’s vaguely supernatural morality play about a bourgeois family who must face their culpability in the death of a young girl. the best of the Bonds and certainly the most memorable of Sean Connery’s 1960s outings in the role. took place when he had the chance to replace Terence YOUNG on the third of the phenomenally successful James Bond films. which depicts some of the problems facing postwar Britain. It is. a star-studded adaptation of a minor Shaw play produced by Burt Lancaster’s company. Hamilton’s work over the next nine years is uneven and frequently unremarkable. and in An Inspector Calls (1954). Roger Moore. star and director bring a nonchalant humour to proceedings which neatly undercut the increasing level of fantasy. His reputation as a solidly efficient film-maker grew with The Intruder (1953). perhaps. Here a bespectacled Michael Caine returns as the poor man’s Bond. Battle of Britain (1969) again . a characteristically understated Second World War drama which excitingly portrays the attempts of a group of British POWs to escape from a German high-security prison.
Man in the Middle (1963). Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985) and Try This One for Size (1989). C. The Devil’s Disciple (1959). Hepworth was one of the key pioneers in the development of narrative cinema in Britain and became one of its most prominent filmmakers throughout the silent period. poor characterisation and slow pace drained the spectacular action sequences of much of their power. The ABC of the Cinematograph. He followed this with two glossy Agatha Christie adaptations. Manuela (1957). A Touch of Larceny (1959). but the romantic sub-plots. commercial chores. Force Ten from Navarone (1978) is a belated sequel to The Guns of Navarone (1961. were made in America and France respectively and added little to his reputation. Battle of Britain (1969). By the 1970s Hamilton’s work had diminished to strictly routine. bringing a polished technique to sometimes routine subjects and frequently making of it superior entertainment.94 cecil hepworth assembled a starry cast for its depiction of Britain’s ‘finest hour’. his is a more typical workman-like career in what is. In 1899 he built a studio in a small converted house in Walton-on-Thames and set up Hepworth and Co. The Colditz Story (1955). Live and Let Die (1973). Evil Under the Sun (1981). They made a range of short actuality subjects (including a very popular film of . worked for Charles Urban’s film company. Following the example of his father. Hepworth. His final films before retiring. whose main virtues lie in their professionalism. He was born on 19 March 1874 in London. patented an electric arc lamp (1896) and wrote the first book on cinema technique. J. Charley Moon (1956). the renowned magic lanternist T. Funeral in Berlin (1966). in 1897. Diamonds Are Forever (1971). The Mirror Crack’d (1980). after all. An Inspector Calls (1954). Lee THOMPSON) which bears little connection to its predecessor and presents some fairly predictable wartime action adventures. Although few would attempt to make the case for Hamilton as an auteur film-maker. He briefly assisted another important pioneer. The Man with the Golden Gun (1974). he entered the burgeoning film industry when it was in its initial artisan phase. His best work handles popular genre material with considerable vigour and not a little humour. The Mirror Crack’d (1980) and Evil Under the Sun (1981). a highly commercial industry. Goldfinger (1964). The Party’s Over (1963). Force Ten From Navarone (1978). The Intruder (1953). Birt ACRES. Cecil HEPWORTH Cecil M. with his cousin Monty Wicks. British Feature Films: The Ringer (1952).
an early attempt at producing synchronised sound using recorded discs which ultimately failed. Its sophisticated (for the time) storytelling. He maintained his connections with the industry making trailers for the National Screen Service in the 1930s and working for the Ministry of Information in the Second World War. with Hepworth usually acting as director and cameraman. Hepworth continued to work successfully into the 1920s with his company renamed as Hepworth Picture Plays. a considerable commercial success. He returned to directing in 1911. using simple stories which unfold on a flat plane in front of a static camera in mid-shot and using actors whose methods frequently tend towards exaggerated gesticulating. instigating a sequence of prestigious literary adaptations including an ambitious hour-long version of Hamlet (1913. They poured out large numbers of tiny films covering a wide variety of genres from travelogues to slapstick comedy. all of his negatives were melted down for their silver content to help repay his debts. in reverse motion. Porter’s The Great Train Robbery (1903) has in relation to American cinema. Hepworth’s ambitions eventually got the better of him when his attempts to establish a large integrated studio at a country estate he had purchased led in 1924 to the receiver being called in. He made melodramas. His liking for innovations found expression in the Vivaphone. Hay Plumb). set new standards in professionalism. as well as introducing cinema’s first canine star. They also produced charming trick films like The Bathers (1900) where the audience was offered the amazing sight of two men diving into a river and then. including a remake of Comin’ Thro’ the Rye (1923) which he had previously filmed in 1916 and which remained his favourite among his own work. This approach quickly dated and Hepworth’s unwillingness to take on board contemporary developments in Hollywood and other European cinemas proved fatal . and comedies such as Alf’s Button (1920). In 1905 Hepworth released Rescued by Rover (Lewin Fitzhamon) which has come to be seen as a landmark in British cinema. In 1904 the firm became the Hepworth Manufacturing Company and Hepworth moved from directing to overseeing the company’s output. Stewart Rome and Chrissie White. Later he chaired the History Research Committee at the BFI. with editing which progressed the narrative. Hepworth developed a style of film-making which was highly theatrical in mode. Catastrophically. apparently rising back out.cecil hepworth 95 Queen Victoria’s funeral in 1901) and scenic films. occupying something like the same position that Edwin S. Hepworth recognised the potential draw of stars and made a sequence of films featuring a roster of contracted performers such as Alma Taylor.
Anna the Adventuress (1920). Mark HERMAN Mark Herman was born in Bridlington. Came the Dawn: Memories of a Film Pioneer (London: Phoenix House. East Yorkshire in 1954. Mist in the Valley (1923). In later years he undertook lecture tours to talk about what had been a central role in the pioneering of cinema. Tansy (1921). 1951). The film manages a darker. Annie Laurie (1916). Following a period working on a television sitcom and writing pop songs. Sheba (1919). Frankie Walsh (1987) which went on to win Best Foreign Film at the Student Oscars. he made Brassed Off (1996). Bibliography: Cecil M.96 mark herman for the audience appeal of his films. Alf’s Button (1920). After art college he attended the National Film School at Beaconsfield where he specialised in animation. The film was well received. Now his work seems to have a peculiarly British quality which gives it a warmer appeal. Nearer My God to Thee (1917). He died at Greenford. Comin’ Thro’ the Rye (1923). Selected British Feature Films: The Basilisk (1914). Comin’ Thro’ the Rye (1916). Wild Heather (1921). Hepworth. perhaps the best of the new breed of popular British comedies which combined realism with elements of the American ‘feelgood’ tradition. The Baby on the Barge (1915). The House of Marney (1926). with its devastating impact on working-class communities such as the mining village depicted here. ranging from the theatrical tour-de-force offered by Jane Horrocks and the genuine emotional power generated by Michael . This auspicious start was not repeated with his debut feature. the sadly inept farce Blame It on the Bellboy (1992). Herman’s subsequent films have strived for the same qualities. picking up a plethora of international awards including a French ‘Oscar’ (the Ce ´ sar for Best Foreign Film) and the Peter Sellers Award for Comedy at the London Evening Standard Awards. Trelawney of the Wells (1916). Little Voice (1998) also concerns itself with the frustrated ambitions of working-class characters and adopts a style that mixes naturalism with stylised fantasy. Here he made the short film See You at Wembley. Middlesex on 9 February 1953. grittier quality than the likes of The Full Monty (1997) and is more overt in its denunciation of Thatcherism. whether through the pictorial values of Comin’ Thro’ the Rye with its feeling for landscape or in the eccentric humour of irresistible early films like How it Feels to be Run Over (1900). The unevenness of effect is typified in the variety of performance styles. but have been only partially successful in achieving this.
He promises to be a talent to watch for the future. were made in Germany . Leaving school at fourteen. He joined Gainsborough when they took over the studio in 1924 and served his apprenticeship as scriptwriter. The film has enough grit to depict their lives without condescension or recourse to easy solutions and the performances are fresh and likeable. as is apparent in Purely Belter (2000). to have been born in the UK. the devout Catholicism of his family upbringing was to leave a considerable imprint on his outlook and his films. A degree of toughness usually undercuts any tendency towards sentimentality in Herman’s work. British Feature Films: Blame It on the Bellboy (1992). Educated at a Jesuit school. (Sir) Alfred HITCHCOCK Often considered the most important film-maker. His first two films as director. Using drawing skills he had developed at evening classes with the University of London. Herman wrote the screenplay for this. he worked initially as a clerk in a telegraph company. His most recent film was Hope Springs (2002). assistant director and set designer for their leading director Graham Cutts. Herman has established his credentials as a writer and director of populist comedy films which successfully combine humour with social commentary. Little Voice (1998). Newcastle United. Alfred Hitchcock was born on 13 August 1899 at Leytonstone on the outskirts of London.(sir) alfred hitchcock 97 Caine (who won a Golden Globe). he obtained a job designing title cards for the American company Famous Players-Lasky who had opened a studio in Islington in 1919. to the unrestrained pantomime of Brenda Blethyn’s role. The Pleasure Garden (1925) and The Mountain Eagle (1926). Purely Belter (2000). a greengrocer’s shop. an approach which has frequently been a feature of British film production. a charming American-set romantic comedy with Colin Firth and Heather Graham. as he has with all of his work to date. He later moved with his parents to London’s East End where they again lived over the family business. but it gives a false impression by underestimating the quality of the work he produced in his early years in England. Alfred Hitchcock’s British films have been overshadowed by his more famous work in Hollywood. the story of two teenage lads and their fraught attempts to raise the money for a season ticket at their football club. Over this small group of films. There is obviously some justification for this. Brassed Off (1996). Here he explored many of the techniques and themes which were to make his films so distinctive throughout this career. with Charles Chaplin.
The Lodger (1926). Ivor Novello is the mysterious figure who is almost martyred by the crowd when the police suspect him of being a murderer in the mould of Jack . as did his membership of the London Film Society where he saw the work of the most exciting contemporary European film-makers. with its expressionist lighting effects and startling camera tricks. This is already apparent in his first significant film. His exposure to the sophisticated cinematic methods of German film-makers were to have a major influence on his later work.98 (sir) alfred hitchcock as co-productions.
With its themes of guilt and persecution it prefigures Hitchcock’s later preoccupations. he embarked on a series of six thrillers which were to create his reputation as the ‘master of suspense. or in Young and Innocent (1937) the extraordinary crane shot as the camera swoops over the dancers to discover that the criminal who can only be identified by his twitching eyelids is actually the band’s drummer. Memorable set-pieces abound: in The 39 Steps (1935) there is the sudden cut from a woman’s scream to the whistle of a steam engine. with The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934). Waltzes from Vienna (1933). Deadpan humour is alternated with thrill sequences which show a remarkable visual ingenuity. Although this material is relatively unremarkable. particularly in the justly famous sequence in which the repeated word ‘knife’ leaps out of the soundtrack to mirror the heroine’s sense of guilt. Joining Michael Balcon at Gaumont-British he was given virtually free reign and. There is the innocent hero accused of a crime he didn’t commit. comedy and adaptations of successful West End plays. Blackmail (1929). Moving to British International Pictures in 1927 he completed the first British sound film. Along the way he encounters an icy blonde and they enter into a bickering. in Sabotage (1936) there is the heroine who has just learned of her young brother’s death but who can’t prevent herself laughing at the film cartoon she is watching. making stage adaptations like Juno and the Paycock (1930) and The Skin Game (1931) and even a filmed operetta.(sir) alfred hitchcock 99 the Ripper. desire and obsession which threaten to . These films may seem lighter and more humorous than many of his later American films. who is then chased across country by a dimwitted police force as he in turn tries to catch the real villains. which was often apparent in striking setpieces. Critics hailed the ‘Hitchcock touch’. Hitchcock made typically imaginative use of the new technology. The penny plain story provides a framework for Hitchcock to explore the possibilities of cinematic technique. For the first half of the 1930s he continued to work in the standard generic forms of the period. his fluent handling of it established him as the best director working in Britain. flirtatious relationship which eventually blossoms into romance.’ These films contain virtually all of the characteristics which we might expect from a later Hitchcock film. Hitchcock made a further six silent films which range across a variety of genres with the emphasis on melodrama. as well as indulge his liking for cynical humour. The most memorable of these is the intriguing Rich and Strange (1932) which tells the ironic story of a married couple whose happiness is almost destroyed when they come into money and go on a cruise. but they frequently deal with similar themes of suppressed violence. his ability to convey the narrative in purely visual terms.
but more often it really comes from within the characters themselves. returned him to the familiar territory of a man wrongly accused of being a sex murderer. He married the scriptwriter Alma Reville in 1926 (she worked on some of his early films) and they were together until his death in Los Angeles on 29 April 1980. this one seems uncomfortably to offer up sadism for their entertainment. . A number of his American films of the 1940s are distinctly British in tone. an uncharacteristically stodgy period drama set in Australia and partially made using the ‘ten minute take’ method he had experimented with in Hollywood on Rope (1948). the film’s production methods are frequently dated and whereas his great films force the audience to face their own identification with the morally dubious behaviour of the central character. Under Capricorn (1949). either for command of the medium or the ability to examine complex themes within a commercial context. but only one British film came of this. It is easy enough to see Hitchcock’s British period as a kind of youthful apprenticeship for his mature American work. often featuring English actors and settings. again adapted from Daphne du Maurier. elegant. In the late 1940s he formed Transatlantic Pictures with British exhibitor Sidney Bernstein in an attempt to alternate between Hollywood and domestic projects. He also returned home to make two French language short propaganda pieces for the Ministry of Information. but Frenzy (1972). But this is to overlook what is by any estimation a remarkable body of work. His British films are witty. cinematically adventurous and even surprisingly sexy. a full knighthood was prohibited as he had by then become an American citizen. as Franc ¸ ois Truffaut certainly did. such as Suspicion (1941) with Cary Grant and Rebecca (1940). regarded by many as a late masterpiece. As contemporary espionage thrillers. disturbing and formally experimental. Hitchcock’s last British film before heading for Hollywood to join producer David O. Leaving Britain on the eve of war seems to have pricked his conscience and as a result a number of his early American films contain pleas for America to join the war. Bon Voyage and Aventure Malgache (both 1944). Unfortunately. the stories frequently suggest that the threat comes from abroad. He had no real rival in British cinema of the 1920s and 1930s. Selznick was Jamaica Inn (1939). They can also be unnerving.100 (sir) alfred hitchcock overwhelm the forces of order and restraint. an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s romantic yarn about Cornish smugglers. He returned to make two more films in Britain: Stage Fright (1950) is a rather heavy-handed thriller set in the theatre world. In later life he was showered with awards and received an honorary knighthood in 1980.
The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1926). Bibliography: Mark Glancy. which paved the way for his cinema debut with the gangster film Get Carter (1971). Tom Ryall. Champagne (1928). Suspect (1969) and Rumour (1970). The Ring (1927). Blackmail (London: BFI. Young and Innocent (1937). Number Seventeen (1932). then as director and producer he made topical documentaries for the cutting-edge investigative series World in Action. with a gritty realism which took British crime films into previously uncharted areas of then explicit sex and violence. Scott). the film seemed to capture the cheerless mood of a nation rapidly descending from the brightly coloured exuberance of the 1960s into the fragmentation of the 1970s. With its vivid setting in a dismal-looking Newcastle and an unexpectedly steely performance from Michael Caine. Stage Fright (1950). Easy Virtue (1927). Hitchcock (London: Secker & Warburg. Frenzy (1972). The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934). Alfred Hitchcock and the British Cinema (London: Croom Helm. B. he wrote and directed two thrillers for Thames Television. The film skilfully combines classic genre elements reminiscent of Raymond Chandler’s novels (its story tells of a man visiting retribution on those responsible for his brother’s death). After training as a chartered accountant and completing two years’ National Service. English Hitchcock (Moffat: Cameron & Hollis. Sabotage (1936). The Farmer’s Wife (1928). Mike HODGES Mike Hodges was born in Bristol on 29 July 1932. Waltzes from Vienna (1933). 1969). Jamaica Inn (1939). he moved into television in the late 1950s.mike hodges 101 British Feature Films: The Pleasure Garden (1925). Moving into fictional drama. The Lady Vanishes (1938). although there is plenty to admire in Pulp (1972) in which Michael Caine plays a writer of trashy novels whose real life starts to resemble one of his books. Tauris. Subsequently Hodges struggled to match the prescience of his first film. The film’s playful pastiche of genre conventions and guest . Under Capricorn (1949). 1999). The Mountain Eagle (1926). 1993). Working in independent television. Juno and the Paycock (1930). Poorly received at the time. Rich and Strange (1932). Tom Ryall. Downhill (1927). 1986). The Skin Game (1931). Franc ¸ ois Truffaut (with Helen G. The 39 Steps (1935). The 39 Steps: A British Film Guide (London: I. 2002). Charles Barr. Murder (1930). it is now considered one of the cornerstones of British crime cinema. he rapidly moved up the ranks to become a scriptwriter. as well as entries for the arts slot Tempo. Secret Agent (1936). Blackmail (1929). The Manxman (1929).
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (2003). ‘The Revenger’s Tragedy – Get Carter’. . an enjoyably camp space adventure based on the 1920s comic strip character but owing rather more to Universal’s unintentionally funny low-budget serials of the 1930s.102 mike hodges star cameos might be called postmodern now but at the time proved difficult to sell to distributors. There is a striking central performance from Clive Owen as another of Hodge’s troubled. Pulp (1972). British Feature Films: Get Carter (1971). Morons from Outer Space (1985). but when he has worked unhindered he has made highly individual films which exemplify how genre formats can be the vehicle for powerful explorations of serious themes. Hodges’ output has clearly been truncated by his disputes with production companies. Flash Gordon (1980). The film as it stands is turgid and self-pitying. 1999). a revenge thriller which bears more than a passing resemblance to Get Carter with its story of a gangster coming out of ‘retirement’ to avenge his brother’s death. He didn’t make another film for nearly ten years and even then Croupier (1998) was only widely seen in Britain in 2000 after it had been an unexpected success in America and on the back of a wave of public interest generated by a rerelease of Get Carter. scripted by and starring the television comedians Griff Rhys Jones and Mel Smith. A Prayer for the Dying (1987). Bibliography: Steven Davies. Hodges career has been severely marred by clashes with producers and difficulties with distribution. Typically. He spent a difficult few years in Hollywood where he made the gloomy science fiction film The Terminal Man (1974) before returning to Britain for Flash Gordon (1980). Croupier (1998). 2002). their false glamour masking moral degeneration. Remaining in Britain he made an even broader sci-fi spoof. He also appears in I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (2003). loner heroes. There are echoes of Get Carter in its stylised depiction of the seedy world of casinos. He was so incensed by the corporate re-cutting of his IRA drama A Prayer for the Dying (1987) that he publicly disowned it. Hodges interest is drawn more to the psychological aspects of the narrative and its opportunities to explore issues around masculinity. hampered by the mannered performance of Mickey Rourke. The film misfires badly. Get Carter and Beyond: The Cinema of Mike Hodges (London: Batsford. playing like a weak relation to the Carry On series. British Crime Cinema (London: Routledge. Morons from Outer Space (1985). Robert Murphy. The American-made supernatural chiller Black Rainbow (1989) is intelligent and atmospheric but was barely released. in Steve Chibnall and Robert Murphy (eds).
The film was an enormous critical and commercial success. a pleasing. Revolution (1985). a nostalgic celebration of British sprinting success at the 1924 Olympics in Paris. which for some are apparent in the film’s critique of the British ruling class and their bigotry. No one could dispute its place as a key British film of the period. but nothing could save it from economic oblivion. small-scale youth drama. This expensive. For critics. It was ten years before his next feature film. The film is surprisingly even-handed in its portrayal of the conflict and unsparing in depicting the chaos of war. ambitious portrayal of the divided loyalties engendered by the American War of Independence was hampered by some eccentric casting but in retrospect is rather undeserving of its dire reputation. a jingoistic endorsement of wealth and advantage. This handsome retelling of a familiar story focused on its more serious undercurrents. empty and materialistic. My Life So Far (1999). their films suffered from the same deficiencies as the commercials they had trained on: they were glossy. Others argued that the film was the epitome of Thatcherism. contrasting the corruption of ‘civilised’ society with the more natural life of the jungle. but Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan. winning the Oscar for Best Film. along with fellow directors Alan PARKER and Ridley Scott and the producer David Puttnam. a modest portrait of . Hudson was born in London on 25 August 1936 and educated at Eton. It exemplifies the two contrasting viewpoints which have emerged about Hudson’s work. Goldcrest. forms part of a new strain in British cinema which emerged in the 1970s and which owes much to their shared background in advertising. did little to restore his reputation but at least slipped more quietly from view. Puttnam and the film’s writer Colin Welland have all been publicly open about their left-wing leanings. It was a notorious critical and commercial disaster which played a part in bringing down Puttnam’s production company. they brought a renewed sense of cinematic style and commercial acumen to an industry sorely in need of both. Hudson. He went into advertising in the 1960s and made a considerable name for himself in the next decade with a series of visually arresting television commercials which won a number of international awards. Appropriately enough. For more sympathetic commentators. as well as an environmentalist message. Few directors have suffered such a heavy fall from grace as Hudson did with his next film.hugh hudson 103 Hugh HUDSON Hugh Hudson. offering a commentary on the double standards of the Victorian class system. It was a hard act to follow. it was Puttnam who gave him a chance to move into feature films with Chariots of Fire (1981). The American-made Lost Angels (1989). Lord of the Apes (1984) proved at least partially successful.
his most interesting work following the Revolution debacle was his 1987 Party Political Broadcast for the Labour Party which. They made three further . California on 7 June 1928. cinematic style. Few directors have become quite as synonymous with one particular style of film-making as Ivory. as the narrative unfolds. Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan. in a glossy. so that his name is a byword for tasteful period literary adaptations. Hudson remains something of a lost talent for British cinema. Revolution (1985). going on to script most of Ivory’s subsequent films. Tellingly. Neil Kinnock.104 james ivory the early life of Denis Forman (film and TV executive) focusing on the relationship between father and son which failed to gain much attention. British Feature Films: Chariots of Fire (1981). Bibliography: Jake Eberts and Terry Ilott. It proved both controversial and remarkably influential. 1990). Their first project together was The Householder (1963) based on a novel by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (born in Germany of Polish parents. Few directors have started in a more dramatic fashion or had a subsequent career quite as frustratingly unfulfilled. After graduating from the University of Oregon. His last release was the American I Dreamed of Africa (2000) which was praised for its sumptuous photography but little else. Ivory was born in Berkeley. in the guise of an American presidential figure. for a director associated with as British a genre as the socalled ‘heritage film’. the hypocrisies underlying Britain’s class system are gradually revealed. his output following the boom and bust pattern of the Thatcher era. My Life so Far (1999). I James IVORY James Ivory’s name immediately conjures up glowing images of Edwardian England. He met the Indian producer Ismail Merchant and in 1961 they formed the production company Merchant-Ivory with the intention of making English language films in India which would play to an international market. he attended film school at USC and then began his career making short documentaries in the late 1950s. Lord of the Apes (1984). Ironically. My Indecision Is Final: The Rise and Fall of Goldcrest Films (London: Faber & Faber. presented its leader. where elegant figures in beautiful costumes move through cluttered drawing rooms or picturesque landscapes and. educated in England and Indian by marriage) who became the crucial third partner in their team.
particularly the sumptuously romantic A Room with a View (1985) and the coolly restrained Howard’s End (1992). M. a bungled depiction of decadent Hollywood in the silent era (although studio re-editing took its toll). the films were accused of simply being twee and formulaic. The rather patronising depiction of the working-class characters in Howards End and the overly decorated mise en sce`ne throughout these films might be used to support the case. while there is a clear undercurrent of eroticism. but he had his greatest success with E. The film has a peculiarly distanced approach to its subject. but British financed and made with a largely British crew. in A Room with View. and Roseland (1977).james ivory 105 films in India during the 1960s: Shakespeare Wallah (1965) is an affectionate story of the misadventures of an English theatre troupe on tour. with Ivory nominated three times for the Best Director Oscar and four times for the equivalent BAFTA. with the suggestion that they were inherently conservative. These films were well received critically. a subtly affecting collection of short stories centred on the famous New York ballroom. this critique tends to underestimate the real variety and achievement of these films. where he made Autobiography of a Princess (1975) and Jane Austen in Manhattan (1980). Ivory made three uneven films in America during the 1970s including The Wild Party (1975). However. and Bombay Talkie (1970) tries to satirise Hindi cinema while itself teetering close to melodrama. and proved a solid box-office draw on art house circuits in both Britain and America. and homoeroticism. These films became the subject of a wider debate about the nature of ‘heritage cinema’. but the criticisms also had a political dimension. Homosexuality is dealt with more . These projects continued to deal with issues of cultural displacement. The theme of lives thwarted by repressive social conventions is at the heart of The Remains of the Day. Forster. The Guru (1969) is a slightly clumsy critique of the then fashionable western interest in Eastern mysticism with Michael York as an unlikely pop star. an adaptation of Henry James set in New England. Further films drawn from Henry James followed with The Bostonians (1984) and The Golden Bowl (2000). In these films we see the emergence of Ivory’s characteristic fascination for the confusions that occur when different cultures interact or where someone finds themselves an outsider in an alien environment. The real turning point in his career came with The Europeans (1979). Other films taken from literary sources include Jean Rhys’s Quartet (1981) and Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day (1993). At a straightforward level. It set Ivory on a path of literary adaptations from which he has rarely strayed since. looking back nostalgically to a time of class privilege and clear gender divides. Ivory’s first British ventures were for television.
John Pym. The Films of Merchant Ivory (New York: Harry M. The Bostonians (1984). however. The White Countess (2006). they are usually beautiful to look at and have provided many memorable performances such as those of Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson in The Remains of the Day and Howards End. Maurice (1987). that there was a feeling of ennui when Ivory returned yet again to Henry James in 2000 with The Golden Bowl and went for a period setting in the Hanif Kureishi-scripted The White Countess (2006). Jefferson in Paris (1995) and Le Divorce (2003). Among his other British films. 1983). Heat and Dust (1982). treating his favourite subjects of emotional repression and social conformism with a characteristic lightness of touch. Howards End (1992). Peter GREENAWAY and Derek Jarman. Whatever political deficiencies the films might possess. none of which were very successful. It is these qualities which may well allow the best work of Merchant-Ivory to outlive contemporary political debates about ‘heritage cinema’. the beguiling and wistful Mr and Mrs Bridge (1990). British Feature Films: The Europeans (1979). Both have flitted between the avant-garde and more . A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries (1998). The Wandering Company: Twenty-one Years of Merchant Ivory Films (London and New York: BFI/MOMA. He has continued to work in America where he made Slaves of New York (1989). The Remains of the Day (1993). from another Forster novel. A Room With a View (1985). is among Ivory’s finest. with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward appropriately playing a long married couple. the death of Ismail Merchant in 2005 brought to an end one of the longest creative collaborations in recent cinema. It might be fairly suggested. Heat and Dust (1982) stands out for its performances and the subtle restraint of its direction (often a feature of Ivory’s work). Bibliography: Robert Emmet Long. Surviving Picasso (1996). 1997). Quartet (1981). The Golden Bowl (2000).106 derek jarman explicitly and sympathetically in Maurice (1987). J Derek JARMAN The emergence in the 1970s of a publicly recognised British art cinema is often attributed to the impact of two directors. as well as for the complex depiction of Anglo-Indian relations. Abrams. Sadly. In contrast.
However. and there were other similarities in their concern with the formal possibilities of the medium and in their rejection of conventional narrative. influential legacy. his life and work constitute a unique. Born in Northwood. Despite a career cut tragically short. then from 1963 studied painting at the Slade School of Art. Derek Jarman attended Kings College and the University of London. if GREENAWAY has sometimes been cerebral and cold. After working as a set designer . Middlesex on 31 January 1942.derek jarman 107 mainstream projects. Jarman’s films are more often warm and instinctive.
but he successfully resists the temptation to film a straightforward biopic. Channel 4 and the BFI frequently came to the rescue and he made a living directing pop music videos. Particularly striking are ‘The Queen is Dead’ for The . and perhaps last. Sebastiane (1976).108 derek jarman at the Royal Opera House. the first film to really tap into Britain’s punk scene. On a tiny budget. His position as rebel was one he felt was forced upon him by circumstances as he saw himself more as a traditionalist. gleamingly white interiors. Covent Garden. adopting a wittily irreverent approach best seen in the sequence where Elizabeth Welch sings ‘Stormy Weather’ with a chorus of sailors dancing the hornpipe. Jarman took a fairly free hand in his adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1979). moving elegy for the grief and loss of war. Something of the same approach was seen in his setting of Wilfred Owen’s poetry and Benjamin Britten’s music in War Requiem (1989). Jarman creates a sumptuously beautiful film which visually echoes the master’s paintings. The film was remarkably prescient in predicting what would happen in the Thatcherite Britain of the 1980s. With The Angelic Conversation (1985) Jarman begins to experiment more radically with the juxtaposition of sound and image. Jarman always said he would have worked in the commercial mainstream if he had been allowed to. she finds a country on the brink of social disintegration and anarchy. interrupting the film’s narrative with deliberately disruptive modern anachronisms such as someone using a typewriter. His directorial debut. Elizabethan literature and Englishness. as he had been doing for some time in his short films. but Jarman’s principle concern is with depicting a Britain that has fallen into near terminal decline. Art and the role of the artist are at the heart of Caravaggio (1986). Judi Dench reads Shakespeare’s sonnets and Jarman re-imagines the love affair they describe as one between two men through montages of striking imagery. Rebellion is certainly an element in Jubilee (1978). Like GREENAWAY. The film gathered some notoriety for its male nudity and deserves a special footnote in film history as the first. but increasingly he found himself marginalised. struggling to obtain financial support for his films. film in which the dialogue is spoken in Latin. as well as giving him considerably free reign for homoerotic imagery and his painterly instincts. a restrained. When Elizabeth I travels forward in time to witness the jubilee celebrations of Elizabeth II. The Devils (1971) and Savage Messiah (1972). he moved into cinema as art director on two Ken RUSSELL films. with his love of renaissance art. some of which were works of art in themselves. Its depiction of the martyrdom of St Sebastian allows Jarman to consider the figure of the outsider. On the former he created the memorable. established a number of his recurrent themes.
Humphrey JENNINGS Humphrey Jennings is the most creative and celebrated film-maker of the British documentary movement. Jarman mourns for the loss of an older. These elements are incorporated into both The Last of England (1987). Blue (1993) presents the viewer with an unchanging blue screen. music videos and photographs. Suffolk on 19 August 1907. Caravaggio (1986). as Lindsay ANDERSON famously put it. In the latter. inspirational figures in recent British cinema. British Feature Films: Sebastiane (1976). Incorporating elements from the camp underground films of Kenneth Anger and references to art history. Wittgenstein (1993). as well as in his books.humphrey jennings 109 Smiths and the Pet Shop Boys’ ‘It’s a Sin’. Jubilee (1978). 1996). He also continued to make short films using a variety of formats including Super-8. Jarman’s legacy goes beyond his films and is there in his work as a campaigner for gay rights and AIDS awareness. perhaps his masterpiece. The Last of England (1987). The Angelic Conversation (1985). but for some he is more than this. The film was a moving elegy for one of the most original. and The Garden (1990). kinder. more civilised England. War Requiem (1989). The Tempest (1979). Chris Leppard (ed. the only real poet of British cinema. paintings. His version of Marlowe’s Edward II (1991) focuses on a gay reading of the play and offers another bleak commentary on the homophobia and intolerance of the Thatcher years. 1996). Bibliography: Michael O’Pray. By Angels Driven: The Films of Derek Jarman (Trowbridge: Flicks Books. Born in Walberswick. Jarman seemed to find a considerable affinity with the youthful rebels of pop music. The Garden (1990). forcing you to focus on the soundtrack where we hear voices. he is. Mirroring his gradual descent into blindness (one of the effects of his infection with HIV). he studied . Derek Jarman: Dreams of England (London: BFI. a place where military police violently maintain order across shattered cityscapes while a mock royal wedding takes place. the remarkable garden which Jarman created at his house near Dungeness provides links to the Garden of Eden and awakens religious themes of guilt. Blue (1993). 16 mm and video. In The Last of England we are presented with another nightmare vision of contemporary Britain. His final film was in many ways his most radical. He died on 19 February 1994. These highly personal films adopt a collage structure in which we are presented with a series of seemingly random images and sounds which explore a central theme.). Edward II (1991). sounds and music which evoke the interior world of the dying artist. persecution and redemption.
In 1936 he helped to found Mass Observation with the poet and sociologist Charles Madge and the anthropologist Tom Harrison. which is composed like a piece of classical music with movements in different moods. as well as celebrating beauty in the everyday. is often a meditation on traditional aspects of the British way of life. The beginnings of this technique are already apparent in the prewar Spare Time (1939). particularly in wartime. as well as designing the first British production of Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale. he was to remain with the GPO as it transformed during wartime into the Crown Film Unit until his departure in 1949. At Cambridge he founded and edited the literary journal Experiment with William Empson and Jacob Bronowski. The two dominant strains of the British documentary movement were the desire to record actuality (as part of a broadly humanist endeavour to better understand our world) and to do this in a manner which recognised the creative possibilities of the form. an English landscape). The subject. He became a central figure in British surrealism helping to organise the 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition in London along with Herbert Read and Roland Penrose. Kipling’s poetry) and more everyday imagery (children in a playground. whether through a rippling . Without recourse to explanatory voice-over. which was accused by some of patronising the working-class people whose leisure pursuits it recorded. it presents an enduring image of the British spirit of resistance. which attempted to record the everyday experiences and views of the British people. These combinations produce results that are both cinematically poetic and deeply affecting. the royal family. He was also a painter and poet in his own right.110 humphrey jennings English at Cambridge and while a student became active in Britain’s burgeoning avant-garde. he always acknowledged the contribution made to his work by editors like Stewart McAllister. reaching a peak in the sublime Listen to Britain (1942). Jennings’ preference was to overlay the former with the latter. celebrated through public symbols (Nelson’s column. especially in the context of a nation fighting for its survival. dancers in a ballroom. leaning towards a formalism which apparently caused disquiet to the movement’s founder John Grierson. He achieved a greater focus and sense of urgency in wartime shorts like Words For Battle (1941) and The Heart of Britain (1941). In 1934 he was recruited to the GPO Film Unit where he first worked on short documentaries. Jennings’ films offer a montage of carefully selected images juxtaposed with music and diegetic sound which form a cohesive whole. These elements are linked by underlying themes which only emerge through the associations created by the editing. Other than a brief spell with the Shell Film Unit where he assisted the animator Len LYE.
The Humphrey Jennings Film Reader (Manchester: Carcanet. British Feature Films: Fires Were Started/I Was a Fireman (1943). His first feature length documentary. Bibliography: Kevin Jackson (ed. Political concerns also underlie his last major documentary. Painter. finding a focus in the birth of young Timothy. The results are sometimes a little awkward. The events are restaged as if they had actually happened in a Welsh mining village. commemorating the brutal Nazi annihilation of the Czech village of Lidice. the vision of Britain seen in Dim Little Island (1948) and Family Portrait (1950) already seems rather out of tune with the changing face of postwar Britain. One of the most striking aspects of Jennings’ outlook was his ability to successfully combine seeming opposites. Despite some stiffness in the presentation. Silent Village (1943). Forster and narrated by Michael Redgrave. so that his love of British traditions frequently sits next to his left-wing political sympathies. Although he continued to make documentaries after the war. All Our Yesterdays (London: BFI. Poet (London: BFI.). . as well as moving in its tribute to the bravery of the fire service during the London blitz. Scripted by E. Geoffrey Nowell-Smith. The hope expressed for Timothy’s future is explicitly linked to the need for greater social justice and seems to chime with the swell of public feeling at the end of the war which had led to the election of a radical Labour government. seemed precisely right. using actual miners and their families from a village in West Wales. however romanticised.humphrey jennings 111 field of corn or factory workers singing along to the radio. Jennings died on 24 September 1950 when he fell from a cliff while scouting locations for a film shoot on the Greek island of Poros. 1986). Humphrey Jennings: Film-maker. ‘Humphrey Jennings: Surrealist Observer’. the film is not only emotionally engaging but suggests a link between the miners in Wales and those in Czechoslovakia which has clear political undercurrents. M.). in Charles Barr (ed. Silent Village (1943) is also an ambitious project. The context of war had provided an arena in which his evocative meditations on the nature of Britishness. the film interweaves the lives of several Britons during the last year of the war. Fires Were Started/I Was a Fireman (1943) introduces narrative elements and the restaging of actuality scenes using the real people involved but with scripted dialogue.). Mary-Lou Jennings (ed. 1982). A Diary for Timothy (1945). 1993). It was a method more suited to the compactness of the short film. but the film is still powerfully dramatic in its vivid scenes of firefighting.
He made a considerable impact with his feature film debut The Killing Fields (1984) which tells of the friendship of an American reporter and his Cambodian translator against the backdrop of the American bombing of Cambodia and the subsequent takeover of the country by the murderous Khmer Rouge. big stars. like City of Joy. and in television where his credits include Coronation Street (1973–4) and a version of John Ford’s ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore (1980). whereas Robert de Niro goes for his sword. The performances by Sam Waterstone and Haing S. yet there is something slightly too glossy. too superficial in its approach. Ngor are affecting and the film doesn’t stint from revealing the horror of what took place. this time . The results were overblown and unconvincing. Joffe ´ confirmed his forte for combining high production values (lush cinematography.112 r o l a n d j o f f e¤ ´ Roland JOFFE Grandson of the sculptor Jacob Epstein. where he was one of the joint founders of the Young Vic. an Anglo-French co-production. Roland Joffe ´ was born in London on 17 November 1945. Vatel (2000) was. as confirmed by Oscar and BAFTA nominations as Best Director for both films and a Palme d’Or at Cannes for The Mission. These films took Joffe ´ to Hollywood where he made Shadow Makers (1989) which depicts the building of the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan in the Second World War. exotic locales) with a social message in The Mission (1986) where the forces of colonialism in eighteenth-century Brazil are resisted by a Jesuit colony which has managed to live in peace with the indigenous population. ambiguous performance as one of the oppressors. The film certainly looks beautiful and there is sincerity in its purpose. Joffe ´ handles the epic sweep of historical events with assurance. Work on radical TV dramas like Trevor Griffith’s series Bill Brand (1976) and the single play The Spongers (1978) indicated his liberal political leanings. Jeremy Irons tries to fight back peacefully. The casting of Hollywood heartthrob Patrick Swayze in the title role seemed all too painfully to confirm the director’s tendency to keep one eye on the box office while offering his message of social conscience. The film did not repeat the success of his earlier efforts and he returned to Europe to fund City of Joy (1992) which follows an American doctor who goes to work in Calcutta and reawakens his moral perspective. Returning to Hollywood he made an execrable adaptation of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter (1995) with Demi Moore and the forgettable thriller Goodbye Lover (1998). but the complexity of history is only really suggested in Ray McAnally’s subtle. His first two films successfully established Joffe ´ ’s international reputation. as well as conveying a strong sense of place. He began his career directing for the theatre.
He first established his reputation as a writer of short stories and novels. violence and class in a fluently imaginative way. The comparative commercial failure of these films returned him to Ireland where he made The Miracle (1991). sweet natured We’re No Angels (1989) featuring Robert de Niro and Sean Penn. Whatever reservations might be voiced about the commercial compromises inherent in his first two films. Vatel (2000). The audience shares the subjective viewpoint of Hoskins’ character. a modest coming-ofage drama with the American actress Beverly D’Angelo.neil jordan 113 set at the court of Louis XIV. He began his successful collaboration with producer Stephen Woolley on The Company of Wolves (1984). adapted from Angela Carter’s short stories. Using traditional fairy tales and elements of the horror genre. where a crime story about an ex-con (Bob Hoskins). Its reception by critics and audiences at Cannes was so hostile it has not yet been released. This is the first film in which Jordan is explicitly concerned with the changing . Neil JORDAN Neil Jordan was born on 25 February 1950 in County Sligo. Ireland and raised in Dublin. Dublin where he also founded the Irish Writers’ Co-operative. The film tells the story of a musician (Stephen Rea. The richness and complexity of Jordan’s vision is apparent in Mona Lisa (1986). which Boorman produced. winning the Guardian Fiction Prize in 1976. Jordan is less concerned with the politics of Northern Ireland than with the psychological and moral impact of violence on the individual. a prostitute (Cathy Tyson) and a gangster (Michael Caine) is a vehicle for a carefully worked out meditation on innocence and corruption. The considerable critical and popular success of Mona Lisa took Jordan to Hollywood where he made two light comedies. He studied Irish History and English at University College. the supernatural farce High Spirits (1988) with Peter O’Toole and the gentle. Moving into films as a script consultant on John BOORMAN’s Excaliber (1981). the film explores issues of sexuality. The film also adopts a stylised visual approach which has become a trademark of Jordan’s work. and his romantic delusions. with the film again adopting subtle visual motifs drawn from fairy tales. he made his debut as a writer/director with Angel (1982). who has appeared in many of Jordan’s films) who tries to avenge the murder by terrorists of a young girl. City of Joy (1992). The Mission (1986). there was enough cinematic flair and liberal good intentions on show to suggest that Joffe ´ should be capable of more work of real substance. This stark decline can only be regretted. British Feature Films: The Killing Fields (1984).
The Good Thief (2002) is a thoughtful reworking of Jean-Pierre Melville’s classic French thriller Bob le Flambeur (1956) which uses the genre to examine the possibility of redemption. He remained in Ireland for The Butcher Boy (1997). but this time he achieved a commercial hit with this glossy. His latest film is Breakfast on Pluto (2005). Seemingly to the surprise of all concerned. caused controversy in Ireland and with de Valera’s descendents. the bloody civil war. The Crying Game (1992) is again set against the backdrop of the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland but. as little more than a frame on which to hang a fascinating and thoroughly unconventional love story. . cinematically audacious manner. The film interweaves many of Jordan’s preoccupations with outsiders. as well as his concern with social outsiders. star-studded adaptation of Anne Rice’s neo-gothic novel. The film takes us through the events of the Easter Rising of 1916. Jordan skilfully navigates the moral intricacies of Greene’s story of an extramarital affair in wartime London. Through his eyes we see a world out of kilter. No description can really do justice to the hypnotic. an extraordinary adaptation of Patrick McCabe’s novel. the IRA’s campaign to end British rule and. a hyper-vivid nightmare place which teeters on the edge of madness. following independence. Jordan’s attempts to steer a middle way through such material proved a lost cause. surreal imagery of the film as we are drawn into the internal world of its young ‘hero’. the nature of Irish society and issues of identity in a dazzling. as before. He returned to the States to make the psychological thriller In Dreams (1999) and then shot an adaptation of Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair (1999) with Ralph Fiennes and Julianne Moore. with its intensely Catholic themes of self-sacrifice and renewed faith. The film has Jordan’s trademark visual panache and dark humour. a colourful. along with the film’s thriller elements. The portrayal of Collins (Liam Neeson) as the story’s hero.114 neil jordan nature of modern-day Ireland. and it features another fine performance from the melancholy Stephen Rea. the film was a phenomenal success at the American box office taking Jordan back into the forefront of bankable international film-makers. Interview With a Vampire (1994) marked his return to Hollywood. he uses this. The film was also attacked by Loyalists. a boy who witnesses the demise of his entire family and dispatches a nosey interloper with a meat cleaver. Eamon de Valera (Alan Rickman). With American backing he was able to make the ambitious Michael Collins (1996). not least for its sly mockery of Ian Paisley. an essentially pragmatic man who is contrasted with the deviousness of Ireland’s first President. The film challenges the audience’s assumptions about gender identity and sexuality in a way that is both funny and tender.
a film and video collective which became a cornerstone in the growing network of independent black film-makers in Britain. in 1983. The Miracle (1991). 2000). including an Oscar for the screenplay of The Crying Game. The End of the Affair (1999). is an important figure in the development of black British cinema and an internationally renowned artist who uses film as a central part of his aesthetic. Isaac JULIEN Isaac Julien. Neil Jordan is a genuinely international film-maker whose has worked in America. His substantial body of work has already ensured his position as one of the most creative. explores the work of the gay AfricanAmerican poet Langston Hughes and deals directly with complexities of gender and sexual identity which go beyond simple racial politics. Ireland. The Crying Game (1992). After studying at Goldsmiths College. In this . While here. London. The Company of Wolves (1984). Michael Collins (1996). Breakfast on Pluto (2005). Martin McLoon. Britain and continental Europe. Eschewing realism. which attempts to deal with the difficulties of constructing a documentary history of black political experience by foregrounding questions of chauvinism and homophobia. Irish National Cinema (London: Routledge. 2004). The Good Thief (2002). Irish Film: The Emergence of a Contemporary Cinema (London: BFI. His parents came to Britain from St Lucia and he grew up in London’s East End. who was born in London on 21 February 1960. a BAFTA for directing The End of the Affair and the Golden Lion from Venice for Michael Collins. the visually striking Looking for Langston (1989). he was instrumental in founding Sankofa. exciting film-makers in contemporary cinema. The Butcher Boy (1997). gender and sexuality. The Passion of Remembrance (1986). Mona Lisa (1986). His talents have been recognised with many awards. challenging themes within genre formats which have often made them accessible to a wide audience. It received the award for best short film at the Berlin Film Festival. British Feature Films: Angel (1982).isaac julien 115 flamboyant celebration of the glam-rock generation of the 1970s which again plays with notions of identity. His first solo film. They tackle serious. where he made the angry documentary Who Killed Colin Roach? (1983). Bibliography: Ruth Barton. Julien was one of the collaborators on Sankofa’s most widely known project. he went to St Martin’s College of Art to study fine art and film. his films acknowledge the artificiality of the medium and exult in its opportunities for fantasy.
Bibliography: Kobena Mercer and Chris Drake. with a celebration of club culture and diverse music styles. He also made a number of music videos for artists as varied as Des’ree and Peter Gabriel. Race (1992) and for American television The Question of Equality (1995). In 2001 his The Long Road to Mazatlan (1999) was shortlisted for the Turner Prize. His reputation is principally based on his career as a producer and studio executive. a fresh. homosexuality and young black experience. K (Sir) Alexander KORDA Alexander Korda was one of the most charismatic figures in British film production from the early 1930s until his death in 1956. Julien is also Visiting Professor of Cultural Studies at Harvard and an honorary research fellow at Goldsmiths College. winning the Critics Prize at Cannes. Memory. The film was well received. More recently his work has moved from the cinema and television into galleries. 1991). London. These works are more layered and abstract. with video installations and multi-screen pieces. but still return to themes of identity whether through sexuality. making documentaries in both Britain and America frequently dealing with issues of black representation in the media. Isaac Julien and Colin MacCabe. . These include the series Black and White in Colour: Television. Julien adopts a fragmentary technique. In the 1990s he began to work in television. it conveys the tensions and pleasures of Britain’s increasingly hybrid cultural scene. montage and documentary footage into a collage effect which compliments his questioning approach. He crossed into the mainstream of fiction cinema with the BFI-funded Young Soul Rebels (1991). The best of these have an obvious historical significance. Set in 1977 against the backdrop of the Queen’s Jubilee. vibrant film which manages successfully to mix its serious examination of interracial relationships. blending reconstruction. They also show his continuing concern for the formal pleasures offered by the moving image. ethnicity or gender. but also show the cosmopolitan panache and love of Britishness which were often characteristics of his approach.116 (sir) alexander korda early work. Diary of a Young Soul Rebel (London: BFI. 2001). British Feature Films: Young Soul Rebels (1991). but he directed more than sixty films with eight of them being made in Britain. Isaac Julien (London: Ellipsis.
Rembrandt (1936). including his brothers. With typical aplomb he established himself as a director and producer with two technically polished comedies. Unfortunately it was not a box office success. particularly in America where it was the first British film to win an Academy Award (for Laughton as Best Actor). characteristically resplendent in his period costume hurling discarded chicken bones from dinner over his shoulder. Korda set about challenging the parochial nature of much British film-making of the period by producing films which would appeal to an international audience. before finally arriving in Britain in 1931. This was probably Korda’s finest achievement as a director.(sir) alexander korda 117 He was born as Sa ´ ndor La ´ szlo ´ Kellner on 16 September 1893 in the Hungarian village of Puszta Turpa ´ szto ´ . the family moved to Budapest where he worked firstly as a journalist before entering the film industry as an assistant director. he quickly established himself as the leading director in Hungarian cinema before anti-Semitism and the chaos of the postwar period led him into permanent exile. The first real fruit of his ambitions came with the landmark film The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933). a version of Marcel Pagnol’s Marius (1931). it took £500. as well as cinematographer Georges Pe ´ rinal. then in 1932 launched his own production company.000 on its first international run proving that British films could compete with Hollywood at their own game. His own directorial debut for the company was another light comedy. The film proved an enormous success. London Films. Korda produced a Rabelaisian romp which looked good and showcased an outrageous performance from Charles Laughton. Service for Ladies (1932) and Wedding Rehearsal (1932). but the ageing Hollywood star Douglas Fairbanks wasn’t able to replicate Laughton’s popular appeal and the film was a commercial failure.000. Sophisticated technique and a glossy finish were part of his strategy and to this end he employed other European e ´ migre ´ s. The film evokes the world of the painter through superbly controlled cinematography by Georges Pe ´ rinal and Laughton brings a touching pathos to the role. Korda tried to repeat the formula with The Private Life of Don Juan (1934). He used Laughton to great effect again in his next film. In 1935 he built a studio at Denham along the lines of Hollywood’s . but suffered a setback with three frustrating years spent in Hollywood at the end of the decade. Back in France he made his finest film to date. After making his directorial debut in 1914. Made for a modest £60. He worked successfully in Vienna and then Berlin during the 1920s. The Girl from Maxim’s (1933). its austere approach proving to be uncommercial. the director Zolta ´ n KORDA and the gifted designer Vincent Korda. After the death of his father. Taking a fairly free hand with British history.
His final film as director was a disappointingly uninspired adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband (1948). looking out at the world with a distinctly European wit and cynicism. at other times openly internationalist. Zolta ´ n KORDA) with a number being directed by Alexander’s brother. sometimes deeply conservative in its love for his adopted homeland (he liked to be seen wearing a bowler hat). He built a reputation as an indulgent. Korda also became involved as an executive with British Lion which ran into major financial problems in 1949 and was bailed out with substantial loans from the government. With a restructured London Films back in production. He had a hand in making the propaganda film The Lion Has Wings (1939) as well as the magical The Thief of Baghdad (1940) in Britain and directed the patriotic period romance Lady Hamilton (1941) in Hollywood with Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. By 1938 London Films was in serious financial trouble and Korda had lost control of Denham. Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford to make him a partner in United Artists. He appears to have spent part of the war period acting as a special envoy for Churchill in America. he made Perfect Strangers (1945) as his first postwar film as director. leading to his knighthood in 1942. If his work as a director has been overshadowed. . The company maintained studio facilities at Shepperton and continued to act as a distributor for smaller production companies. As a producer. His work often reflected his complex personality. it is only because he was such an important. He died on 23 January 1956.118 (sir) alexander korda great production facilities and in the same year he signed a deal with Charles Chaplin. London Films continued to undertake ambitious projects such as the spectacular science fiction film Things to Come (1936) as well as costume films aimed at the American market. nurturing such talents as Michael POWELL and David LEAN. but the company became particularly associated with gung-ho imperial adventure films like Sanders of the River (1935. It’s a charming comedy with appealing performances from Robert Donat and Deborah Kerr as a staid married couple who are brought out of their shells by wartime separation and then have to face the prospect of reestablishing their relationship when the conflict ends. his high-risk policies were reflected in the pattern of ‘boom and bust’ which typified his career and has been repeated by others since. supportive producer. influential producer and champion for British film-making. Zolta ´ n. London Films continued to make prestigious and memorable films including Carol REED’s The Third Man (1949) and OLIVIER’s Richard III (1955).
He followed his elder brother on his European travels to Austria and Germany during the 1920s. Following active service in the First World War as a cavalry officer. During this period he worked in a variety of capacities including cameraman. art director and scriptwriter. their conflicting approaches formed the context within which their films were made. he joined Alexander at the Corvin Studios in Budapest. With Zolta ´ n employed as a director for his brother’s London Films production company. The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933). it is Zolta ´ n’s personality which emerges more strongly in both The Drum (1938) and The Four Feathers (1939). Bibliography: Charles Drazin.¤ n korda zolta 119 British Feature Films: Service for Ladies (1932). as seen in the Kipling-inspired Elephant Boy (1937) where Robert Flaherty’s impressive location documentary footage sits awkwardly with the unconvincing studio scenes made at Denham. Karol Kulik. but it was Sanders of the River (1935) which set him on a path of making imperial adventure films set in Africa or India. although the film did make a star of Sabu. The production difficulties frequently encountered in making these films could also undermine their potential. ´ n KORDA Zolta Younger brother of Alexander KORDA. The Private Life of Don Juan (1934). Zolta ´ n Korda harboured left-wing political sympathies and a genuine concern with the plight of native peoples in the developing world. then on to Hollywood and back again to Europe in 1930. he assisted Leontine Sagan on Men of Tomorrow (1932) and then directed the quota quickie Cash (1933). 1975). these were to become his trademark. Zolta ´ n Korda was born as Zolta ´ n Kellner on 3 May 1895 in the same village of Puszta Turpa ´ szto ´ in Hungary. Korda: Britain’s Only Movie Mogul (London: Sidgwick & Jackson. Wedding Rehearsal (1932). The Girl from Maxim’s (1933). Perfect Strangers (1945). Alexander Korda: The Man Who Could Work Miracles (London: W. 2002). The tension between the brothers often exploded into violent arguments and is also apparent in a number of the films they made together in the 1930s. The former again . These contradictions work to the severe detriment of Sanders of the River. However. a chronically dated African drama with Leslie Banks as the benevolent colonialist and the long-suffering Paul Robeson misused as a ‘noble savage’. traditionally patriotic elder brother. The condescending characterisations don’t help. Allen. In Britain from 1932. Rembrandt (1936). An Ideal Husband (1947). H. Here he worked as an editor before making his debut as a director in 1918. Unlike his more conservative.
as our reluctant hero (John Clements) proves that he really isn’t a coward by travelling undercover to the Sudan and rescuing his best friend (Ralph Richardson). and remained there to make his next four films without his brother. a liberal anti-apartheid narrative which wears its heart on its sleeve a little too obviously. Zolta ´ n went to America to make a rather heavy-handed version of Kipling’s The Jungle Book (1942) for Alexander. The Four Feathers (1939). Sanders of the River (1935). but in his best films there is a considerable flair for spectacle and an eye for exotic locations. Charmed Lives: A Family Romance (New York: Random House. 1979). Both films benefited from the magnificent colour cinematography of Georges Pe ´ rinal and the impressive set designs of younger brother Vincent Korda. Forget Me Not (1936). as well as a surprisingly liberal streak often straining to emerge. Cry the Beloved Country (1952) was finally the film he had always wanted to make in Africa. British Feature Films: Cash (1933). with Sabu as Mowgli. The spectacular action scenes are handled with undeniable verve and there is a surprising vein of satire at the expense of the British which goes some way to counterbalancing the colonial propaganda. Poor health meant that Terence Young took on most of the directorial duties for Storm over the Nile (1955). Elephant Boy (1937. co-directed with Terence Young). Bibliography: Michael Korda. The Drum (1938). Cry the Beloved Country (1952). despite a narrative full of imperial cliche ´ s. The realistic war actioner Sahara (1943) was a popular vehicle for Humphrey Bogart. The latter is the most enjoyable of Zolta ´ n’s films. Following his brother’s death in 1956 he effectively retired from film-making. He died in California on 13 October 1961. .120 ¤ n korda zolta featured Sabu and is a briskly entertaining Raj adventure with the British army working in collaboration with an Indian prince to see off his wicked uncle (even if some of the Indian locations are actually Wales). His final two films were made for Alexander’s London Films back in Britain. The Macomber Affair (1947) made a reasonably effective job of adapting Hemingway’s story of big-game hunting and A Woman’s Vengeance (1948) did a similarly efficient job with Aldous Huxley’s short story and play. a virtual remake of The Four Feathers using Zolta ´ n’s original location footage distorted to fit the fashionable Cinemascope format. Changes in attitudes have rendered elements of his 1930s work fairly unacceptable for many modern audiences. Storm over the Nile (1955. although no one would question its sincerity. co-directed with Robert Flaherty). but the resistance drama One Against Seven (1945) failed to repeat its success.
However. but the comparative liberality of Britain’s censorship regime seems to have been the principle incentive.stanley kubrick 121 Stanley KUBRICK Few would question Stanley Kubrick’s status as one of the most important directors in film history. these films have American settings and subjects. Even so Kubrick still had to raise the age of Nabokov’s nymphet to make the topic of a middle-aged man besotted with a pubescent teenager acceptable enough to be passed. By 1962 Kubrick had already established a considerable reputation in America. During that period he made eight films which technically qualify as being British. Fear and Desire (1953) and Killer’s Kiss (1955). He was born in New York City on 26 July 1928 and had worked successfully as a photojournalist before moving into films in the early 1950s. The film marked the beginning of Kubrick’s disenchantment with Hollywood as he battled over its content with Douglas who was both its star and producer. The precise reasons for his decision to film Lolita (1962) in Britain remain unclear. He followed it with the bleakest of Cold War black comedies Dr Strangelove (1963). After making three short documentaries. There is also something rather British about the humour in both films. goonish farce of Dr Strangelove. with the exception of just two titles. At a stretch. The skills of British technicians such . it is possible to point to some specifically British aspects in these two films. whether in the literary word play of Lolita or the surreal. He moved into the studio system with Paths of Glory (1957). it seems reasonable to view Kubrick as an American director working in self-imposed exile in Britain whose contribution to the indigenous national cinema was actually relatively small. with Kubrick sometimes going to quite extraordinary lengths to make Britain stand in for America. a powerful anti-war story starring Kirk Douglas. editing and photographing the films as well as directing. with James Mason and Peter Sellers appearing in Lolita and Sellers memorably taking three roles in Dr Strangelove. Both feature key performances from British actors. These films were shot in Britain with largely British crews. a degree of British funding and a number of British actors in the casts. Consequently. It was Douglas who then brought him in to replace Anthony Mann (who Douglas had fired) on the intelligent epic Spartacus (1960). These brought him to the attention of independent producer James Harris and together they made the taut caper film The Killing (1956). Kubrick came to Britain in 1962 and remained until his death in 1999. with Kubrick writing. he scraped together funding from family and friends for two ultra-low-budget films. but his career poses considerable difficulties when trying to place him within the context of British cinema.
certainly contributed to the success of these films. On these films Kubrick went to bizarre lengths to recreate his settings in Britain. His final film was the dreamlike.122 stanley kubrick as Ken Adam. the film was withdrawn by Kubrick from the British market. depicting a Britain of the near future which bares a considerable resemblance to the Britain of the early 1970s. . spellbinding 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) it is not so easy to connect such an abstract. However. let alone an explicitly British one. The remainder of Kubrick’s output belongs firmly within the history of American cinema. intellectual film to any national culture. whereas Full Metal Jacket (1987) is a characteristically distanced account of the horrors and dehumanisation of the Vietnam War. The Shining (1980) is a disturbing adaptation of Stephen King’s horror novel with a wildly stylised performance from Jack Nicholson. In place of comforting nostalgia. Kubrick offers a chilling vision of a soulless society. With his next two films Kubrick did produce work which can usefully be related to a British context. only being rereleased after his death in 2000. Why he remained in Britain to make these films has been the source of speculation with suggestions varying from a fear of flying to his desire to keep the Hollywood studios which funded his work at arm’s length. but it is exactly this quality which marks it out from other ‘heritage’ films. Kubrick discards the faint optimism of Burgess’s final draft of the novel. The film is visually sumptuous. an adaptation of Thackeray’s novel Barry Lyndon (1975). A Clockwork Orange (1971) is a breathtakingly cynical adaptation of Anthony Burgess’s dystopian novel. painstakingly recreating the eighteenth century through a series of painterly compositions as it follows the eponymous hero on his ultimately futile journey through the class structures of European society. Kubrick’s ability to switch between genres was never more startlingly apparent than with his next project. who designed the stunning sets for Dr Strangelove. with the hallucinatory. erotic drama Eyes Wide Shut (1999) which had a mixed critical reception. The tightly controlled visual design captures a world at once strange and yet recognisable as the country currently emerging from the optimism of the 1960s into the violent fragmentation of the new decade. with a disused gas works standing in for Vietnam and the streets of London redressed as New York for Eyes Wide Shut. Following a spate of copycat violence. Here the necessity for human free will only brings about rape and murder. preferring to confront audiences with a future in which the brutality of the individual is matched by that of the state. Some critics disapproved of the cold detachment with which Kubrick unfolds the story. barely allowing the audience any emotional engagement with the characters.
The son of a journalist and newspaper editor. Stanley Kubrick died on 7 March 1999 leaving behind a body of work which will ensure his status as one of the most imperishable talents cinema has produced. as did his obsessive control over every aspect of production from initial script to the design of publicity materials. British Feature Films: Lolita (1962).frank launder and sidney gilliat 123 The long periods of meticulous preparation carried out in secret between films only added to the mystique surrounding him. He was awarded a posthumous BAFTA Fellowship in 2000 and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Directors Guild of Great Britain in 1999. Frank Launder was born on 28 January 1906 in Hitchin. Full Metal Jacket (1987). 1983). His first job was in the offices of the Official Receiver of Bankruptcy. Hertfordshire. Walter C. Mycroft. 1999). that of Launder and Gilliat was the most enduring and productive. Stanley Kubrick. Gilbert Adair (New York: Holt. John Baxter. A Clockwork Orange (1971). Michel Ciment. At this time he met and began to collaborate on scripts with Sidney Gilliat. The Shining (1980). L Frank LAUNDER and Sidney GILLIAT Among the several film-making partnerships which have distinguished British cinema. Barry Lyndon (1975). 1997). Sybil Taylor and Ulrich Ruchti. Director: A Visual Analysis (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. trans. but it was through his involvement with Brighton Repertory Company. Gilliat was born 15 February 1908 in Stockport. Eyes Wide Shut (1999). that he entered the film industry in 1928. for whom he had acted and written a play. Kubrick. It can only be regrettable for British cinema that someone resident in the country for such a long time made such a limited direct contribution to its national film culture. Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1963). it was his father’s former film critic on the London Evening Standard. Stanley Kubrick: A Biography (London: Harper Collins. He started in the script department at British International Pictures (BIP) at Elstree and continued as a writer for a variety of British studios during the 1930s. Rinehart & Winston. who helped Gilliat into the film . 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Bibliography: Alexander Walker.
Rex Harrison excels in a role he seems born to play. They made populist entertainments which ranged across a number of genres. Gilliat made the realistically observed wartime romantic melodrama Waterloo Road (1944). sympathetic characterisations and just the occasional hint of an anarchic streak. Green for Danger (1946) returned them to the territory of The Lady Vanishes. particularly women. directing two Scottish comedies. Working separately. while Launder directed the sober Two Thousand Women (1944) set in a women’s internment centre in France. under the Rank umbrella. Launder showed an occasional taste for Celtic subjects. Typical of this is their witty screenplay for HITCHCOCK’s The Lady Vanishes (1938) where they created the characters of the bumbling Charters and Caldicott who were to reappear in a number of later British films. The film is unpatronising and sympathetic in its depiction of the impact of war on the lives of ordinary British people. Although it extols the virtues of the ‘people’s war’ where individuals of all classes and backgrounds pulled together for the greater good. it isn’t afraid to ask questions about what might happen to that spirit in the postwar world. It benefits greatly from a deliciously whimsical performance by Alastair Sim. beginning with The Rake’s Progress (1945) where Gilliat’s taste for social satire is to the fore in an acerbic comedy of upperclass misbehaviour. offering a murder mystery which manages to remain gripping while adopting a lightly humorous tone. I See a Dark Stranger (1946) even manages the unlikely task of bringing a waspish humour to the story of an IRA sympathiser (Deborah Kerr) spying for the Germans who falls in love with an English officer (Trevor Howard). Geordie (1955) and The Bridal Path (1959). careful scripting. but which were distinguished by their intelligence. They began to work together on comedy-thrillers which were often distinguished by their skill in observing the quirks of British behaviour. then it was Launder who tended towards a broader style with the use of farce and slapstick while Gilliat showed a preference for gentle satire directed at the constraints of British life. Their first chance to control their own feature film came at Gainsborough with the wartime propaganda piece Millions Like Us (1943) which they jointly wrote and directed. They were at their peak in the late 1940s. Back together they founded their own production company. This was the beginning of a partnership which usually saw the two of them working together on the script and alternating the tasks of directing and/or producing. as well as the straight drama Captain Boycott (1947) which was set in nineteenth- .124 frank launder and sidney gilliat industry when he took over the running of BIP’s script department in 1928. Individual Pictures. If comedy was their real strong point.
this was the first in what turned out to be a series of five St Trinian’s films which stretched on until 1980. Based on Ronald Searle’s cartoons. As the series went on. as evidenced by the Swinging London trappings of The Great St Trinian’s Train Robbery (1966) and the descent into vulgarity in The Wildcats of St Trinian’s (1980). becoming involved with the management of British Lion from 1958 until 1972. adapted from the Kingsley Amis novel That Certain Feeling. The first manages to whip up a real frenzy of enjoyable chaos from its depiction of the goings-on at a wildly anarchic girls school presided over by Alastair Sim in drag.frank launder and sidney gilliat 125 century Ireland. Launder’s liking for broad comedy. A perfect cast. a lushly photographed romance of two youngsters stranded on a desert island which successfully captured the imagination of the British public. with Launder becoming its President in 1946. Launder and Gilliat effectively retired from film-making in 1972 after making the critically derided Agatha Christie thriller Endless Night (1972). The best of the three is Only Two Can Play (1961). is evident in many of the films he directed from the 1950s onward. Gilliat’s preference for more cerebral humour is best seen in three of their later films. Mr Porter! (1937). helping to found the Screenwriters’ Association in 1937. Mayhem is barely a sufficient description for The Belles of St Trinian’s (1954). Gilliat’s eye for convincing detail gives the film a sense of social claustrophobia and sexual frustration. It is seen at its best in the brilliantly organised farce The Happiest Days of Your Life (1950) where the pupils of a boys school and a girls school find themselves billeted in the same buildings. Launder and Gilliat remained champions of the art of scriptwriting. The Constant Husband (1954) has Rex Harrison in another purpose-built role as an amnesiac who wakes to discover he is a bigamist married to five different women. including Alastair Sim. the formula grew increasingly stale. which had its roots in his 1930s scripts for such classic music hall-style comedies as Oh. Left Right and Centre (1959) is a mild parody of party politics somewhat in the mould of the BOUTLING brothers’ topical comedies. London Belongs to Me (1948) showed their populist touch in a rousing tale of residents in a boarding house who rally together to save a young man arrested for murder. only reappearing . They also showed a genuine interest in the health of their native industry. milk the situation for every laugh it can generate and Launder maintains tight control of the mayhem which ensues. Their biggest commercial success came with The Blue Lagoon (1949). Peter Sellers is unusually restrained as the Welsh librarian who finds himself embroiled in the back-stabbing world of provincial literati. Joyce Grenfell and Margaret Rutherford.
Joey Boy (1965). working with Harold Lowenstein. They worked across a range of genres. often points up the absurdities of British life and hints at an anarchic spirit lurking under the mundane surface. He continued working in documentary during the Second World War for the Army Kinematograph Service . The Bridal Path (1959). 1977). the liberal English boarding school. In their long career together they created a body of work which is unpretentious and relatively conventional in its use of cinematic technique. a project which Gilliat only had a limited involvement with. Left Right and Centre (1959). Jointly directed – Millions Like Us (1943). British Feature Films: Frank Launder directing – Two Thousand Women (1944). Philip Leacock was born on 8 October 1917 in London. Captain Boycott (1947). The Pure Hell of St Trinian’s (1960). The Belles of St Trinian’s (1954). with a particular affinity for light thrillers and comedies. The Wildcats of St Trinian’s (1980). Fortune Is a Woman (1957). a realistically observed mise en sce`ne provides the backdrop for a humorous narrative which.126 philip leacock belatedly to make the last St Trinian’s film in 1980. whether slyly satirical or played for easier laughs. The Rake’s Progress (1945). The Happiest Days of Your Life (1950). Sidney Gilliat directing – Waterloo Road (1944). Behind the Spanish Lines (1938) and Spanish ABC (1938). Endless Night (1972). Geoff Brown. In their best work. The Great St Trinian’s Train Robbery (1966). The Constant Husband (1954). I See a Dark Stranger (1946). his brother-in-law. which are usually polished. The Blue Lagoon (1949). Green for Danger (1946). Only Two Can Play (1961). 2002). The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan (1953). Bibliography: Bruce Babington. He grew up in the Canary Islands and was educated at Bedales. Launder and Gilliat (Manchester: Manchester University Press. Blue Murder at St Trinian’s (1957). Philip LEACOCK Elder brother of the documentary film-maker Richard Leacock. In the 1930s he began to be involved in documentary film-making. followed by Frank Launder in 1997. Geordie (1955). on Out to Play (1936) and assisting Thorold DICKINSON on his two pro-Republican films made in Spain. London Belongs to Me (1948). Launder and Gilliat (London: BFI. Lady Godiva Rides Again (1951). witty and neatly executed. Sidney Gilliat died in 1994. Folly to be Wise (1952). State Secret (1950).
including the racially aware drama Take a Giant Step (1959). As well as exhibiting a strong sense of place (despite being shot at Pinewood). a light comedy set in a public school which finds itself thrown into confusion by the arrival of the headmaster’s Polynesian cousin (Nancy Kwan). but it was with The Kidnappers (1953) that his more distinctive style began to emerge. The Spanish Gardener (1956). These films display an empathy for the loneliness and vulnerability of children in an indifferent adult world which has helped them to retain a considerable appeal. These qualities were to distinguish a series of films which feature children at the centre of their narratives. the film is remarkable for the sensitive handling of the child actors and for the sympathy with which they are portrayed. is similarly affecting and understated in its depiction of the growing relationship between the neglected son of the British consul in Spain and his gardener. Escapade (1955) is a quirky tale about three children who steal an airplane in order to make an antiwar protest and Innocent Sinners (1958) is a touching story of a London teenager who makes a garden in the bombed-out remains of a church. There is an uncharacteristically dark take on childhood in Reach for Glory (1961) where the jingoistic games of two wartime evacuees accidentally result in the death of a German refugee. the routine Second World War drama Appointment in London (1953) featuring Dirk Bogarde. Something of a decline is apparent in the solemn Second World War drama The War Lover (1962) with Steve McQueen and in Tamahine (1962). which was shot for John Grierson’s Group 3 production company and produced by John BAXTER.philip leacock 127 and after it with the Crown Film Unit. which was nominated for the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. He incorporated documentary elements into his mainstream debut for Rank. played with a gentle tenderness by Dirk Bogarde. After making two short fictional films. Here the depiction of childhood innocence is considerably less benign than usual with Leacock and the results are unsettling. he made his debut as a feature director with The Brave Don’t Cry (1952). After making three films and completing some television work in the States. Following the commercial failure of these films he returned to America where he was to spend the rest of his career working efficiently . one Jewish and the other Catholic. he returned to Britain and to familiar territory with Hand in Hand (1960) which is about the friendship between two young girls. The film tells its moving story of a mass rescue attempt at a Scottish coal mine in a semidocumentary style. The film centres on two orphaned children living with their stern grandfather in Nova Scotia in the early 1900s who kidnap a baby and hide it in the woods to bring up as their own.
High Tide at Noon (1957). building a . as well as on innumerable made-for-TV movies. (Sir) David LEAN David Lean is unquestionably one of Britain’s most important film directors. Reach for Glory (1961). In his small body of film work Leacock carved a modest but distinctive niche for himself which is distinguished by his sensitive handling of actors. Escapade (1955). as well as a distinctly romantic sensibility at work. Innocent Sinners (1958). Hand in Hand (1960). Appointment in London (1953). The War Lover (1962). an obvious sympathy for children and a strong sense of moral purpose. The Spanish Gardener (1956). The Kidnappers (1953). Tamahine (1962). Born in Croydon on 25 March 1908 of Quaker parents. He died while on holiday in London on 14 July 1990. but throughout there is a meticulous concern for the craftsmanship of film-making and visual storytelling.128 (sir) david lean in television on a variety of fairly routine projects from long-running series such as The Waltons to soap operas like Dynasty. These quiet qualities have stood the test of time well and his best work retains a surprising level of emotional engagement. British Feature Films: The Brave Don’t Cry (1952). after working in his father’s office he entered the film industry in 1927 as a clapperboy. His career divides neatly into a series of quite distinct phases. He spent the 1930s employed as a film editor.
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reputation which was unrivalled in British studios. He made his directorial debut assisting Noe ¨ l Coward on his epic wartime flag-waver In Which We Serve (1942) which was the start of a four-film collaboration between the two. In Which We Serve is very much Coward’s film (he produced, wrote the screenplay, co-directed, starred and composed the music) and Lean’s function appears to have been confined to handling the action sequences. The film catches the mood of a country still coming to terms with Dunkirk but remaining defiant in the face of apparent defeat. Although immensely popular, its class stereotypes and stiff-upper-lipped bravery now feel decidedly dated. Lean then co-founded Cineguild (with Anthony Havelock-Allan and Ronald Neame), which allowed him to work semi-independently under the Rank umbrella. This Happy Breed (1944), written by Coward as a form of companion piece to In Which We Serve, focused this time on the British domestic scene by following the progress of a lower-middleclass family between the wars and extolling the everyday virtues of ordinary British people. Despite a strong cast, it suffered even more obviously from Coward’s patrician attitude towards a class of people he clearly knew little about, but it did provide Lean with his first solo outing as director. Over the course of his work with Coward it is possible to chart the emergence of Lean’s personal signature. Blithe Spirit (1945) is certainly still more Coward than Lean in its characteristically waspish comedy of social manners. Undeniably stagey, Lean keeps things moving in a lively, light-hearted manner and obtains fine performances from Rex Harrison and the rest of a perfect cast, although it was poorly received at the time. Brief Encounter (1945) has become one of the most cherished British films of the 1940s and is perhaps the first time that Lean really emerges from under Coward’s shadow. The deeply romantic story of a frustrated married woman (Celia Johnson) and the equally married young doctor (Trevor Howard) she falls in love with unfolds in the dullest of surroundings, amid tea rooms, city parks and a dingy railway station, but this only serves to heighten the intensity of feeling (Rachmaninov’s music helps). The film has been subjected to a variety of interpretations (and parodies) but remains the quintessential British film of love versus duty with passions held in check. Following his break from Coward, Lean made two extraordinary versions of Charles Dickens novels, Great Expectations (1946) and Oliver Twist (1948). The two films set a benchmark for adaptations of nineteenth-century literature which has rarely been matched. Lean’s particular skill lies in the tight control he maintains over the sprawling narratives and in the visual panache with which he pictures the famous
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characters and episodes from the two novels. The casting is nearly always perfect, the set designs of John Bryan and the cinematography of Guy Green capture the dark claustrophobia of Dickens’ London and Lean shapes the storytelling with an absolute fluency. Great Expectations has remained one of best regarded British films of all time. The reputation of Oliver Twist is almost as high, although the film suffered initially in America from concerns over the alleged anti-Semitism of its portrayal of Fagin. It was withheld until 1951 and then only released with heavy cuts. The central, transitional phase of Lean’s career is marked by some less well-remembered work. The Passionate Friends (1948) is an adaptation of H. G. Wells which reworks some of the same themes as Brief Encounter. It starred Lean’s third wife, Ann Todd, who also appeared in the nineteenth-century courtroom melodrama Madeleine (1949). Both films are rather coldly executed and fared poorly with critics and the public, but The Sound Barrier (1952) is a more ambitious project detailing the first flight to pass the speed of sound. The balance between the flying sequences and the dialogue scenes is sometimes a little jarring and the cut-glass accents haven’t aged well, but the film is exciting and at times moving in its low-key heroism. The film also marked Lean’s move from Rank to their great rival Alexander KORDA. Hobson’s Choice (1954) was adapted from Harold Brighouse’s popular play and provides a showcase for Charles Laughton’s wonderfully irascible performance as the ill tempered northern patriarch who is out manoeuvred by his equally strong-minded daughter (Brenda de Banzie). Summer Madness (1955) proved to be a pivotal film for Lean. In many respects, it is another return to the themes of repressed love found in Brief Encounter, but this film was shot in colour on location in Venice with a Hollywood star, Katherine Hepburn, in the lead. On its own merits, it is a relatively modest film, but its glossy production values were an indication of the direction Lean’s career was to take. The final phase of Lean’s career saw him move into large-scale international co-productions, often featuring starry casts and made at great expense. His now infamous attention to detail frequently led to long period of location shooting which meant that over the next fifteen years he released only four films. These films did well at the box office and received many awards, but their critical standing has been the subject of a good deal of heated debate. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), adapted from Pierre Boulle’s novel, is a spectacular war film whose genre elements sit rather uncomfortably with its more thoughtful aspects. These lie principally in the culture clash between Alec Guinness’s pedantic, pompous Colonel Nicholson and Sessue Hayakawa’s increasingly enraged Colonel Saito. The film achieved a new
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level of international recognition for Lean confirmed by his Academy Award as Best Director. He won the award again with Lawrence of Arabia (1962) which is broadly recognised as his late masterpiece. Its technical qualities, including Frederick A. Young’s breathtaking cinematography and the innovative editing of Anne Coates, are remarkable and the performances of Peter O’Toole (as T. E. Lawrence), Omar Sharif and Anthony Quinn are suitably charismatic, but it’s the hypnotic beauty of the film as a whole which haunts the memory. The beginnings of a critical backlash were already apparent with Dr Zhivago (1965), adapted by Robert Bolt from Boris Pasternak’s novel, although it was a considerable commercial success. Despite its epic sweep and some memorable set-pieces, Lean’s usual sureness of touch seems missing. Some of the casting is anachronistic, particularly the Egyptian Sharif as a Russian doctor, the complex narrative frequently becomes confused and Lean shows little personal engagement with the depiction of some of the most important political development of the twentieth century. If the critical reception was poor, this was nothing in comparison with the roasting given to Ryan’s Daughter (1970). In essence, this is a slight love story set against the backdrop of Irish resistance to British rule in the early 1900s, but Lean blows this up over nearly four hours into a gargantuan, melodramatic storm in a teacup. He built an entire village in Ireland for the film, but the odd casting, slow pace and air of indulgence proved unappealing. Lean blamed the critical hostility to the film for a subsequent fourteen-year absence from film-making, although he tried to get a number of large-scale projects off the ground during this time. His final film, A Passage to India (1984), was adapted from E. M. Forster’s novel and has many of Lean’s characteristic qualities in its clear storytelling and visual splendour. It did a good deal to restore his reputation at the time, although seen now its simplification of Forster’s novel into a story of sexual repression and cultural misunderstanding seems crude and the casting of Alec Guinness as the Indian mystic Godbole embarrassed a fine actor. Despite this, nothing is likely to diminish Lean’s standing within British cinema. A consummate, painstaking craftsman and masterly storyteller, his surprisingly consistent thematic concerns place him, alongside Michael POWELL, as the great romantic of British cinema. He was knighted in 1984 and died in London on 16 April 1991 while preparing a film of Joseph Conrad’s Nostromo. British Feature Films: In Which We Serve (1942, co-directed with Noe ¨ l Coward); This Happy Breed (1944); Blithe Spirit (1945); Brief Encounter (1945); Great Expectations (1946); Oliver Twist (1948); The
Passionate Friends (1948); Madeleine (1949); The Sound Barrier (1952); Hobson’s Choice (1954); Summer Madness (1955); The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957); Lawrence of Arabia (1962); Doctor Zhivago (1965); Ryan’s Daughter (1970); A Passage to India (1984). Bibliography: Kevin Brownlow, David Lean (London: Faber & Faber, 1997). Mike LEIGH Mike Leigh, who was born in Salford on 20 February 1943, has become one of Britain’s most acclaimed contemporary directors. Along with Ken Loach, he has been responsible for keeping the flame of socially relevant, realist cinema alive in Britain. For his many admirers, the gallery of exceptional performances, the humanity of his stories and the ongoing political commitment of his cinema have made him a treasured figure. His detractors point to a tendency to drift into caricature and suggest his use of humorous stereotyping as an indication of a patronising attitude. However, few would deny his importance in British cinema of the last twenty-five years. The son of a doctor and a nurse, he attended his local grammar school and in 1960 won a scholarship to RADA. After a spell at art college, he studied at the London Film School and from 1965 began to work in the theatre as an actor, writer and director. He made his feature film debut with Bleak Moments (1971) in which his distinctive methods are already apparent. Having established a basic dramatic premise, setting and possible characters, but working without a script, Leigh allows his actors to improvise over a period of extensive rehearsals, with a final screenplay emerging from this collaboration. He then shoots the script in a more formally conventional manner. The results have a vivid spontaneity and naturalness unusual even in realist films. Bleak Moments is also typical in its concern for lives stunted by emotional repression and the inability to communicate. The exchanges of banal dialogue between the characters which mask their loneliness make for a painfully raw experience for audiences. The uncompromising harshness of his vision found few supporters initially and he didn’t make another cinema film for seventeen years. Instead, he joined the BBC in 1973 and continued with his theatre work (as he does today), as well as making a number of short films. In his feature length television films there is a greater emphasis on comedy, frequently stemming from an acute observation of the social ineptitude of his characters. In the popular Abigail’s Party (1977) the humour is at the expense of the class ambitions of the suburban would-be
sophisticate Beverly, beautifully played by Leigh’s then wife Alison Steadman. Beverly’s ghastly lack of taste and shallowness are revealed in a sometimes excruciating comedy of social embarrassment. The temptation to draw on caricature and easy stereotypes is even more apparent in the camping holiday farce of Nuts in May (1976) which is often agonising to watch and yet in which a strain of real melancholy and sympathy keeps the characters just within the realm of naturalistic observation. The bleaker side of Leigh’s sensibility is more to the fore in the superbly acted Meantime (1984). With the help of Channel 4, Leigh finally returned to feature filmmaking with High Hopes (1988) which remains one of the highlights of his career. Leigh deftly interweaves a familiar drama of working-class family life into a wider commentary on the effects of Thatcherism on British communities. The political subtext grows naturally out of the everyday struggles of individuals who find it difficult to retain a sense of purpose in an increasingly materialistic, selfish culture. For his critics, Leigh’s political sympathies lead him to portray the proletarian characters with a warmth which is denied to the grotesque yuppies, but nonetheless the film was a success, establishing Leigh’s international reputation and giving him a place on the art house circuit which he has subsequently maintained. He achieved his widest success with Secrets and Lies (1996) in which his characteristic themes of futile social aspiration, loss of community spirit and the damaging effects of materialism are explored in a moving story of family reconciliation. The film was awarded two BAFTAs and the Palme d’Or at Cannes and even obtained a degree of American success with Brenda Blethyn’s exaggerated performance winning an Oscar nomination. One consequence of Leigh’s methods is that his actors are sometimes pushed towards a heightened realism which produces performances full of amplified character quirks which can be grating. This contrasts with the subtlety which can be achieved, typified by Timothy Spall’s acting here. The film is also a fine riposte to those who argue that Leigh has no visual style. His technique, although understated, is always artfully crafted, as is evident here in the flowing camerawork, careful compositions and occasional use of montage. Both Life is Sweet (1990), his first film for his own independent production company Thin Man, and Career Girls (1997) are in the classic Mike Leigh mould, although the latter has a tenderness and mood of regret which belie its rather poor reception. Naked (1993) is Leigh’s most controversial and extreme film. The charismatic, violently misanthropic Johnny, played brilliantly by David Thewlis, seemed to some critics to personify a streak of misogyny which had
Leigh surprised everyone with Topsy-Turvy (1999). Richard LESTER Richard Lester. With his most recent film. Bibliography: Raymond Carney and Leonard Quart. High Hopes (1988). was born in Philadelphia on 19 January 1932. he has recaptured the art house success he previously experienced with Secrets and Lies. Vera Drake (2004). With All or Nothing (2002) he returned to much more familiar territory with another fraught drama of working-class life featuring many of his favourite repertory company of actors. although they are emanating from such a dislikeable mouthpiece. His work is instantly recognisable. Vera Drake (2004). Career Girls (1997). 2000). All or Nothing (2002). The film’s evenhanded treatment of a potentially divisive subject enabled it to have some success in America (where he received two Oscar nominations) and even his detractors could hardly fail to be impressed by the evocative period recreation (on a very low budget) and the strength of the performances. but beyond the caricatures it is his ability to embed the political within believably human situations that gives his films such a powerful connection with their audience. its humour built on an acute perception of typically British traits and characterised by a mixture of sympathy and satire. Imelda Staunton gives a moving. He was awarded the OBE in 1993 and the Ordre des Arts et Lettres in 1998. an engaging. Michael Coveney. the film director most associated with the youth culture explosion of Swinging Sixties Britain. British Feature Films: Bleak Moments (1971). The Films of Mike Leigh: Embracing the World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.134 richard lester always been there in Leigh’s work. Naked (1993). The real tension arises from the fact that Johnny’s rants against modern life are likely to strike a chord with many in the audience. affectionate portrait of Gilbert and Sullivan which delights in the recreation of the backstage world of the theatre. By stretching the boundaries of naturalism towards a form of stylisation he has created a distinctive signature. Life is Sweet (1990). Topsy-Turvy (1999). He studied clinical psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and then began work in American television as a stage- . beautifully nuanced performance as the heroine who provides illegal abortions for poor working women who don’t have the social contacts to access a doctor. 1996). The World According to Mike Leigh (London: HarperCollins. The film’s reception seemed to mark an acknowledgment of Leigh’s status within British cinema. Secrets and Lies (1996).
as well as the use of travelogue locations in the Alps and the Bahamas. from silent movie title cards to a Greek chorus of disapproving adults.richard lester 135 hand. Lester’s achievement is evident in the fact that the film still seems fresh. There is a similar ‘anything goes’ mood to his review-style . the frenetic approach can’t disguise the basic hollowness of the enterprise. gently anti-establishment stance is retained. however. There is a sense of authenticity in the glimpse the film gives into the band’s already chaotic lifestyle and. It’s Trad. He also gained crucial experience working on television commercials. imitating the gritty realism of the New Wave in a faux documentary following a few days in the life of the band. He worked closely with Milligan and Sellers again on the groundbreaking elevenminute short The Running. Lester adopts a surprisingly naturalistic approach. as well as influential. Dad! (1962). as exemplified in the series A Show Called Fred (1956) featuring Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan. His early work in British television showed a liking for anarchic humour. The simple story of a young teacher (Michael Crawford) who wants to emulate his housemate’s success with women provides the framework for a barrage of playful cinematic techniques. In this first film intended to show off Britain’s new pop sensations the Beatles. he travelled in Europe before settling in Britain in 1956. Leaving the States in 1954. Shot in two days at a cost of £70. There is a real delight here in inventiveness for its own sake and the film certainly captures the energy and essential innocence of the time. rising rapidly to become a director at the remarkable age of just twenty. which was sometimes blamed on his time working in advertising. do look like the precursor to the modern-day pop music video. was set against the backdrop of the British jazz revival and was an early indication of Lester’s affinity with Britain’s nascent youth scene. Its musical set-pieces. Despite a plethora of zany gags and visual trickery. The Mouse on the Moon (1963) was a relatively tame mainstream comedy. His feature film debut. others were less enamoured with what they saw as an inherent superficiality in Lester’s approach. A Hard Day’s Night (1964). Of all Lester’s work it is probably The Knack (1965) which ensured his association with Swinging London. but his third film. something of the group’s mischievous. the film gave full reign to the surreal inventiveness of both performers. He wasn’t able to replicate this artistic success with the second Beatles vehicle. Help! (1965). unlike so many pop music vehicles of the era. forty years on. While the film won the Palme d’Or at Cannes and critics like George Melly celebrated its youthful vigour. took him firmly into the media spotlight. Jumping and Standing Still Film (1959).
the film indicates the degree to which Milligan’s humour often grew out of a sense of despair at human folly. and the action scenes are staged with gusto. His other American projects. He demonstrated a sure commercial touch with two entertaining additions to the Superman franchise. Lester was reunited with Spike Milligan for the bizarre The Bed Sitting Room (1969). The best of his later films are marked by a mood of nostalgia. Cuba (1979) and Finders Keepers (1984). a lacklustre retread principally remembered for the accidental death during production of Roy Kinnear. Lester’s films of the late 1960s take on a darker. and he belatedly returned to the format once more with The Return of the Musketeers (1989). How I Won the War (1967).136 richard lester film of Stephen Sondheim’s stage musical A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966). adapted from the play by Milligan and John Antrobus. failed to find anything like the same audience. A surreal vision of a world ravaged by nuclear war where the survivors transform into items of household furniture. more pessimistic tone in keeping with the gradual unravelling of the swinging scene. engaging Robin and Marion (1976). Admittedly sentimental. The commercial failure of The Bed Sitting Room. is a slightly scattergun attack on the horrors of war and the absurdities of the British class system. A good deal of his later work was completed in America including the enjoyable disaster movie Juggernaut (1974) set aboard a transatlantic liner. Between these films Lester made Petulia (1968) in the States. Nonetheless. Originally shot as one film but due to overlength released as two. there are amiable performances. Although little remembered now. there is still a 1960s spirit of joyful irreverence in his adaptation of Dumas’ The Three Musketeers (1973) and The Four Musketeers (1974). the film still has a powerfully melancholic longing for a time of heroism long vanished. as seen in the elegiac. The Ritz (1976). Superman II (1980) and Superman III (1983). There are similar qualities in Royal Flash (1975). pushed Lester away from experimentation and social commentary into more mainstream projects. along with the increasingly parlous financial state of British cinema. particularly from Oliver Reed. based on George Macdonald Fraser’s Flashman novels and starring Malcolm McDowell. but with the help of an appealing cast including Buster Keaton and Phil Silvers the film has as at least as many hits as misses. which gave John Lennon his first and only film appearance without the other Beatles. the film is a potently disillusioned portrayal of false 1960s values made with real intelligence. A similar mood underlies the more routine . Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn are the legendary figures who we now find in their declining years.
Robin and Marion (1976). scripted by Nell Dunn. Bibliography: Andrew Yule. Juggernaut (1974). Working frequently for the Wednesday Play slot with producer Tony Garnett. Loach made challenging.ken loach 137 American-made prequel Butch and Sundance: The Early Days (1979) and is even intrinsic to his last film. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966). . The Films of Richard Lester (London: Croom Helm. It is with his second feature. Warwickshire on 17 June 1936. The Four Musketeers (1974). . he worked firstly in reparatory theatre and then in 1963 moved into television with the BBC. If his later work seems more conventional. The Man Who Framed the Beatles: A Biography of Richard Lester (New York: Donald J. The Bed Sitting Room (1969). The Knack . a documentary record of a concert tour by Paul McCartney. The film’s tone is slightly uncertain. and How to Get It (1965). He moved into feature films with Poor Cow (1967). Neil Sinyard. Royal Flash (1975). it’s only because these films were so successful in distilling the newness of their own time. may now seem rather dated. Dad! (1962). Get Back (1991). no other director seemed to have such a sure sense of the youthful mood of freedom which Britain was experiencing. The Mouse on the Moon (1963). Help! (1965). with their goonish humour and cinematic sleight of hand. The Return of the Musketeers (1989). A Hard Day’s Night (1964). but few films of the era capture with quite such insouciant charm the optimism and sheer pleasure which were at the heart of the period. socially conscious work like Up the Junction (1965) and Cathy Come Home (1966). with Loach’s characteristic naturalism sitting slightly awkwardly with more conventional elements such as the casting of Terence Stamp. Ken LOACH Ken Loach was born in Nuneaton. he began to specialise in single-episode dramas which often tackled contemporary topics using a semi-documentary style. How I Won the War (1967). At his height in the 1960s. The Three Musketeers (1973). that his mature style can be . 1985). These films. British Feature Films: It’s Trad. bringing the issue of homelessness to many people’s attention. Get Back (1991). After studying law at Oxford where he was President of the Dramatic Society. which deals with the difficulties of a single mother played by Carol White. Fine. Kes (1969). After a spell on the popular police series Z Cars. 1994). The programme remains a landmark in the history of television drama. The latter in particular hit the public nerve.
He also made a number of more directly political documentaries which address the crisis facing the Labour movement in Britain during this period. Loach often found it difficult to work. He followed it with Family Life (1971). The film is surprisingly funny. Loach uses such strategies as only supplying each actor with their own lines so that they react with genuine spontaneity or providing just that day’s dialogue so actors are unsure how the drama will unfold. Loach has re-emerged into the wider spotlight since the beginning of the 1990s. the original author of Kes and the television drama The Gamekeeper (1980). which returns to familiar territory in depicting the lives of unemployed youngsters. indicting an indifferent medical profession and the pressures of contemporary life as contributing to her condition. Loach is always drawn to the downtrodden and outcast. benefiting from his increasing international status as one of Britain’s most important contemporary directors. a slightly confused drama contrasting life in West and East Germany. although for his critics this approach is a sleight-of-hand intended to deceive the viewer into believing they are actually watching a documentary rather than a fictional drama. which he had previously made as the television drama In Two Minds (1967). The latter was written by Barry Hines. his other work of the decade is for television. and Looks and Smiles (1981). These controversial projects faced an unprecedented degree of attempted censorship. but Loach has remained impressively consistent in his dedication to using cinema and television to explore his socialist beliefs. as well as touching and lyrical. evocative view of their characters. This includes the compelling four-part Days of Hope (1975) dealing with the build up to the 1926 General Strike. Loach typically shoots on location using a cast which mixes professional actors with local amateurs. The results are raw and convincing. as well as from more . In the depressed economic climate faced by 1970s British cinema. scripted by David Mercer. including Questions of Leadership (1981) and The Red and the Blue (1983). particularly in the now classic football lesson. With the exception of the rather misjudged children’s period adventure film Black Jack (1979). These films interweave their political subtext with a warm. The production situation wasn’t greatly more encouraging for such a politically committed film-maker in the Thatcherite 1980s when his only two cinema films were Fatherland (1986). Kes sympathetically depicts the stunted life of a young schoolboy in a working-class mining community whose only release is through his training of a kestrel. seeing them as victims of a materialistic society.138 ken loach seen. Aiming to maximise authenticity. It deals in an understanding manner with the plight of a mentally ill young woman.
unsurprisingly incurred the wrath of the political Right. The film is more significant for the way in which Loach combines his political concerns and realist strategies with a more conventional dramatic approach. Hidden Agenda (1990). This approach reaches its zenith with the powerful Land and Freedom (1995). which deals with the British ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy in Northern Ireland. the film must be unique in managing to make a group discussion of collectivisation into a totally gripping scene. his disillusionment with Blair’s Labour government indicated by his abandoning the party and subsequent affiliation to alternative left-wing groups like the Socialist Labour Party for whom he directed a party political broadcast. depicting the plight of immigrant workers. The beginnings of a renaissance started with Riff-Raff (1991) and Raining Stones (1993). His concern with the socially marginalised has continued in his two more recent films set in Scotland. The former is set on a building site and deals with the problems faced by casual labourers. while the art house success My Name is Joe (1998) looks at the problems of unemployment. drug use and alcoholism. Given Loach’s open political stance it is hardly a shock that his films attract a good deal of criticism. This approach has been used in a number of his subsequent films leading to further accusations that his realist aesthetic is designed to disguise an emotionally manipulative narrative technique. Sweet Sixteen (2002) and Ae Fond Kiss (2004). petty crime. Ladybird (1994) revisited similar territory to Cathy Come Home. it examines questions of political commitment through a young woman’s discovery of her grandfather’s letters home from Spain. Its social concerns are blended with a good deal of humour and there are charismatic performances from Robert Carlyle and Ricky Tomlinson. along with a degree of sentiment as its unemployed protagonist mires himself in debt to a brutal loan shark in a desperate attempt to buy a dress for his daughter’s communion service. the latter winning the Jury Prize at Cannes. Loach’s focus has increasingly been targeted towards those who remain outside the economic improvements enjoyed by the majority. It also succeeds in demonstrating how the historical issues depicted remain relevant today. These deeply humane films make their political points by demonstrating how economic and social structures impinge on the everyday lives of their characters.ken loach 139 consistent funding. In Tony Blair’s Britain. Ladybird. Written by regular collaborator Jim Allen. which dramatises the . The internationalism of his outlook was reflected in his first American film Bread and Roses (2000). Humour is used again in Raining Stones. Set during the Spanish Civil War. here using a thriller format to encompass his themes. Carla’s Song (1996).
Whereas some were attracted by a newly vibrant film culture. Kes (1969). He briefly studied medicine at Dartford and then English at Harvard.). but quickly moved to RKO where he made his feature debut with the anti-war film The Boy with Green Hair (1948). Carla’s Song (1996). Ladybird (1994). George McKnight (ed. Land and Freedom (1995). Family Life (1971). Naturalistic observation adds a raw power to his political cinema.). firstly working on television and then being forced to make films . British Feature Films: Poor Cow (1967). My Name is Joe (1998). The Cinema of Ken Loach (London: Wallflower. He arrived in Britain in 1952 and initially struggled to establish himself. including The Prowler (1951) and a remake of Fritz Lang’s M (1951). In Loach’s filmmaking the personal truly is the political. and his contribution to the portmanteau films September 11 (2002) and Tickets (2005). Looks and Smiles (1981). He started in the film industry making shorts with MGM. 2002). Black Jack (1979).140 joseph losey struggles of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Graham Fuller (ed. The liberal sentiments expressed in these films. Ae Fond Kiss (2004). Hidden Agenda (1990). drawing the viewer in. unflinching voice within British cinema. Losey had rather more pressing reasons as he was fleeing from Senator McCarthy’s House UnAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC) which subsequently blacklisted him as a communist. Agent of Challenge and Defiance: The Films of Ken Loach (Trowbridge: Flicks Books. Fatherland (1986). 1998). Riff-Raff (1991). He followed this with a series of taughtly directed ‘B’ movies. Sweet Sixteen (2002). Joseph LOSEY The American-born Joseph Losey belongs to a group of distinguished directors who came to Britain in the late 1950s and 1960s from abroad. along with his involvement with left-wing theatre groups. 1997). before moving to New York where he became involved with New Deal theatre projects and made short films for the Rockefeller Foundation. Losey was born in La Crosse. For forty years Ken Loach has been a clear. His films address the concerns of ordinary people struggling within an iniquitous economic system in a manner which is engaging and full of empathy. brought him to the attention of HUAC and led in due course to his departure from the US. After war service he returned to the theatre and in 1947 he directed a stage production of Bertolt Brecht’s Galileo starring Charles Laughton. Bibliography: Jacob Leigh. Loach on Loach (London: Faber & Faber. Raining Stones (1993). Ladybird. often in the crime genre. Wisconsin on 14 January 1909.
this is an intricately scripted dissection of the British class system. gradually achieves mastery over his weak employer (James Fox). Adapted by Harold Pinter from Robin Maugham’s novella. Losey made two further films with Pinter. Barrett. the film depicts the shallow lives of two Oxford dons (Bogarde and Baker) whose intellectualism and apparent sophistication mask petty jealousies and . The film was initially released in a truncated form which Losey disowned. Sleeping Tiger teamed him with Dirk Bogarde for the first time and Blind Date and The Criminal feature Stanley Baker. but The Intimate Stranger (1956) was more confident. but his real leap into critical acclaim came with The Servant (1963). The first. these two actors were to be central to his 1960s output. from bored married couple to hints of homosexuality. He ran into problems with producers again on the undervalued Eve (1962) featuring Stanley Baker and Jeanne Moreau. Directed and written with minimalistic precision. His visual style here leans towards the expressionistic. The Criminal was also his first film with composer Johnny Dankworth who would score many of his 1960s films. particularly in The Criminal. but Time Without Pity (1957). as well as having a plot which paralleled elements of Losey’s own experiences of persecution. is perhaps his masterpiece and was awarded the Jury Prize at Cannes. In these films many of his typical methods and themes are already apparent. The two play out a dizzying array of different relationships. In 1964 he made the trenchant. It was only released by Hammer after considerable re-editing. His early British films continue the pattern of his American work centring on genre subjects which he handles with style and individuality. His mature period really begins with The Damned (1961). moving anti-war film King and Country with Bogarde and Tom Courtenay.joseph losey 141 under various pseudonyms. and there is a concern for social outsiders and injustice. while Losey creates a suitably menacing atmosphere with chiaroscuro lighting and an elaborate set. Accident (1967). it was eventually re-released in a longer version which revealed more of its complexity. superficially a science fiction chiller made for Hammer about children deliberately contaminated by the government with radiation but characteristically used by Losey to attack the development of nuclear weapons and the idiocies of the Cold War. The period melodrama The Gentleman and the Gypsy (1958) was a mistake. Blind Date (1959) and The Criminal (1960) are crime dramas which show Losey’s panache even working with low budgets. The Sleeping Tiger (1954) was a modest British debut. it remains a genuinely groundbreaking film of the period. If the film becomes faintly absurd in its final orgy sequence. as Dirk Bogarde’s brilliantly played manservant.
Losey brought an outsider’s sense of distance to the nuances of British life. British Feature Films: The Sleeping Tiger (1954). was made back in Britain. It was at least a partial return to form. His finest films opened up new avenues for British film culture.142 joseph losey selfishness. Modesty Blaise (1966) is a wildly camp comic-strip spoof of James Bond with Bogarde fetching in a silver wig. stars Alan Bates and Julie Christie and was adapted from L. indulgent melodrama adapted from a Tennessee Williams play and featuring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Adapted from Nell Dunn’s play and set in a bath-house. Blind Date (1959). If his work sometimes misfired. Sadly. claustrophobic psychodrama Secret Ceremony (1968). The Go-Between (1971). Losey’s other films never quite captured the quality of his work with Pinter and were frequently criticised for their pretentiousness and overly baroque directorial style. it features a strong all-female cast including Diana Dors and Vanessa Redgrave. it was due to overambition rather than lack of ability. P. he left Britain to make films in continental Europe. These are revealed in a long. Taylor also featured in the bizarre. while Burton appeared in the plodding The Assassination of Trotsky (1972). The Gypsy and the Gentleman (1958). His last film. Steaming (1985). In his best work. whereas both A Doll’s House (1973) and Galileo (1975) are straightforward theatrical adaptations weakened by the miscasting of Jane Fonda in the former and Topol in the latter. Hartley’s novel of Edwardian England. Boom (1968) was a heavily symbolic. beautifully observed sequence of a Sunday dinner party in summer which disintegrates into cold. After making The Romantic Englishwoman (1975). changing the national cinematic landscape for good. The Criminal (1960). Clumsy symbolism and obscurity marred the allegorical Figures in a Landscape (1970). Losey’s health deteriorated during the making of the film and he subsequently died on 22 June 1984. The Damned . The best of his European films is his ornate version of Don Giovanni (1979). emotional cruelty. The film is constructed with a concern for formal symmetry. which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. producing work which examined the workings of the class system and the mechanics of power in a highly formalised cinematic style. but otherwise he continued to show a gradual decline. Time Without Pity (1957). Its depiction of the forbidden affair between the daughter of the local landowners and a tenant farmer allows Losey to again examine the hypocrisies of the British class system. using an elaborate flashback structure to reveal the psychological damage done to the characters by class prejudices. The Intimate Stranger (1956).
However. Accident (1967). Boom (1968). 1980). made with Humphrey JENNINGS. the award-winning A Colour Box (1935). cylindrical robot. Born in Christchurch. is a magical animation celebrating the excitement of modern machinery in glowing colours and featuring a striking. He used puppets in Kaleidoscope (1935). he was interested in art from an early age and learned film-making in Australia before undertaking anthropological studies in Samoa (he had an abiding interest in aboriginal art). with his last promotional film for the GPO. a technique later taken up by Norman MCLAREN. The Romantic Englishwoman (1975). His first short for them. Subsequently he worked on newsreels. combined silhouettes with colour backgrounds in Rainbow Dance (1936) and used found documentary footage for Trade Tattoo (1937). Secret Ceremony (1968). Galileo (1975). is barely recognisable as a conventional advertisement. provided special effects sequences for the feature film Stardust (1938) and produced advertisements for companies such as Imperial Airways. The Go-Between (1971). The Servant (1963). hence his participation in the 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition in London. 1994). King and Country (1964). Lye was fascinated with the idea of trying to capture the non-rational in art. N or N. Figures in a Landscape (1970). made for Shell Oil. The Assassination of Trotsky (1972). Modesty Blaise (1966). Foster Hirsch. Instead we are confronted with colourful shapes which shimmer and dance in time to a soundtrack of Cuban music. Birth of a Robot (1935). A Doll’s House (1973). Steaming (1985). Finding it difficult to obtain financial support. although even here he added camera tricks and elements of animation to create a more inventive effect. He exhibited with the group. This eventually led to his first animated short. During the war he worked on . Joseph Losey: A Revenge on Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press.len lye 143 (1961). Len LYE Len Lye is a unique figure. When he came to Britain in 1926 he joined the London-based modernist group the Seven and Five Society. The results are joyful and dynamic. (1937). the largely abstract Tusalava (1929). being one of the earliest experimental filmmakers to emerge from British cinema. Bibliography: David Caute. New Zealand on 5 July 1901. he joined the GPO Film Unit in 1934 where he began to experiment with painting directly on to celluloid. Joseph Losey (Boston: Twayne. but retained a fascination for how movement could be incorporated into art. he moved into a slightly more conventional narrative live-action format.W. Eve (1962).
Len Lye: A Biography (Auckland: Auckland University Press. M Alexander MACKENDRICK Among the talented team assembled at Ealing Studios by Michael Balcon two directors stand out for their individualism. 1980). directed some educational inserts for . in Don Macpherson (ed. A pioneer of British animation and a precursor of the experimental structuralist film-making which was to take off in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Considering the potentially cerebral nature of his work. Lye is a highly unusual film-maker. Traditions of Independence: British Cinema in the Thirties (London: BFI. Len Lye died on 15 May 1980 in Rhode Island.144 alexander mackendrick propaganda films for the Ministry of Information. In the late 1950s he started to focus his energies on painting and sculpture again. During the war he wrote a number of short propaganda films for the animators HALAS and BATCHELOR. In the late 1930s he scripted several cinema commercials and co-wrote his first feature film. ‘The AvantGarde Attitude in the Thirties’. as well as continuing to explore the possibilities of cinematic abstraction. He left Britain for America in 1944 where he worked on educational shorts and the March of Time newsreel series. optimistic approach usually favoured by Balcon. 2001). Midnight Menace (1937). In an industry where realism has often been the dominant aesthetic. including compiling the documentary Cameramen at War (1944). Bibliography: Roger Horrocks. he returned to live in Glasgow with his grandfather. it is an added pleasure that so much of it is concerned with the simple joy of movement and colour. If Hamer’s films are distinguished by their visual stylisation and melancholy tone. With the death of his father in 1919. Deke Dusinberre. Mackendrick was born in Boston. He returned to New Zealand in 1968 where he continued to work as an artist. USA. Robert HAMER and Alexander Mackendrick.). he demonstrated the possibilities of cinema as a medium for abstract expression. Massachusetts on 8 September 1912 of Scottish parents. Walter Thompson in London where he remained for the rest of the 1930s. then it is Mackendrick who took the Ealing comedy style and pushed it into areas of satire and black humour which mark his films out from the more whimsical. After studying at the Glasgow School of Art he went to work as an artist for the advertising firm J.
Pathe ´ newsreels and co-directed two propaganda documentaries for the British Army in Italy following the fall of Rome. After the war he founded Merlin Productions which made documentaries for the Ministry of Information, but when it floundered in 1946 he went to work for Ealing. His first jobs at Ealing were as a writer and production designer, but he eventually made his feature debut as a director with the Scottish comedy Whisky Galore! (1949). Taken from Compton Mackenzie’s novel, the plot is typical Ealing with its story of a small island whose inhabitants salvage a cargo of whisky from a shipwreck and then conspire to keep their booty out of the clutches of an English customs inspector. However, in what became characteristic of Mackendrick, he partially subverts the familiar Ealing format offering a degree of sympathy for the bewildered inspector and adding a darker edge to the depiction of the anarchic villagers than was the Ealing norm. This ability to introduce a level of moral ambiguity to the Ealing formula is even more apparent in his second classic comedy for them, The Man in the White Suit (1951). Alec Guinness is the boffin who invents a material which never wears out or needs cleaning, thus incurring the wrath of both factory owners and the workforce. The satire on capitalism takes pot shots at both sides in the class war but doesn’t allow Guinness’s hero off the hook either as it eventually becomes transparent that his naivety is every bit as dangerous as the more deliberately Machiavellian behaviour of those around him. He took a break from comedy to make Mandy (1952), a sympathetic, sensitive portrait of the world of a little deaf girl struggling to learn to speak which was awarded the Special Jury Prize at Venice. With a touching central performance from Mandy Miller, the film is also an examination of an adult world of non-communication exemplified by the barren relationship of Mandy’s parents. He returned to comedy, and to a Scottish setting, with The Maggie (1954). This is the slightest of his Ealing output and struggles to overcome the cliche ´ s in its story of a wily Scottish steamboat captain and the rich American employer whom he runs rings around. His final film for Ealing, and the last of their series of classic comedies, was The Ladykillers (1955). The film develops into a blackly surreal masterpiece as its gang of would-be train robbers falls foul of a sweet old lady (Katie Johnson) who proves to be more than a match for them. The film’s love-hate relationship with aspects of Britishness, its ambiguous portrayal of Mrs Wilberforce (who is at once the film’s moral centre and also a representative of the reactionary forces in British society) and its bleak escalation into murder make it a unique film in the Ealing canon, as well as one of the most complex, rewarding British comedies.
With the demise of Ealing, Mackendrick went to America where he made the brilliant Sweet Smell of Success (1957), a bitter depiction of the shallow world of New York society centred on a mendacious gossip columnist and his rat-like press agent, played superbly by Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis respectively. The film was made for HechtHill-Lancaster, for whom Mackendrick was to shoot The Devil’s Disciple back in the UK, but he was fired early on in the film’s production. None of his last three films matched the high standards he had previously set, but the first two have considerable interest. Both Sammy Going South (1963) and A High Wind in Jamaica (1965) have children at their centre. The former is an epic adventure film about an orphaned boy who hitchhikes the length of Africa to find his aunt. If the handling here is relatively straightforward, then the latter film is another ambiguous, and sometimes disturbing, contemplation of innocence and experience depicting the relationships between a group of children and their pirate captors. The film was dogged by clashes with its American backers, something that was becoming a regular occurrence for Mackendrick. His final film, the Hollywood-made Don’t Make Waves (1967), was a disappointingly limp beach comedy starring Tony Curtis. With the British industry in increasing disarray and little liking for Hollywood, Mackendrick abandoned film-making and in 1969 joined academia becoming the Dean of the Film School at the California Institute for the Arts. He taught here almost up to the time of his death on 23 December 1993. With their emphasis on narrative, it is easy to overlook the visual skill with which Mackendrick’s films were made. His control of mise en sce`ne in The Man in the White Suit or the striking use of exaggerated colour in The Ladykillers are just two examples of the meticulous control and attention to detail which he brought to his films. In the dark pessimism of their humour and their leaning towards social satire, Mackendrick’s work went well beyond the self-imposed limitations of Balcon’s house style at Ealing, creating films that have stood the test of time and which rank him in the forefront of British directors. British Feature Films: Whisky Galore! (1949); The Man in the White Suit (1951); Mandy (1952); The Maggie (1954); The Ladykillers (1955); Sammy Going South (1963); A High Wind in Jamaica (1965). Bibliography: Philip Kemp, Lethal Innocence: The Cinema of Alexander Mackendrick (London: Methuen, 1991).
Norman MCLAREN Norman McLaren was born in Stirling, Scotland on 11 April 1914. His interest in cinema first developed while a student at the Glasgow School of Art. Here he made two ‘documentaries’, Seven Till Five (1933), which depicts a typical day at the art school, and Camera Makes Whoopee (1935), about the staging of the art school ball. His taste for experimentation is already apparent in the use of montage, superimposition and animation effects in the latter. His left-wing political leanings – he was a member of the activist group Glasgow Kino and for a time of the Communist Party – are to the fore in his best-known British work Hell Unltd (1936). Co-directed with his Glasgow Art School colleague, the sculptress Helen Biggar, the film attacks the growing arms trade of the period and combines a wide variety of techniques, including animation and the use of found footage, into a highly innovative collage. He subsequently went to Spain to work as cameraman on Ivor Montague’s pro-Republican Defence of Madrid (1936). After winning the Best Film Award at the 1935 Scottish Amateur Film Festival for Colour Cocktail, he was invited by John Grierson to join the GPO Film Unit. Here he joined the like-minded Len LYE, whose experiments with animation and abstraction had similarities to McLaren’s work. He was later to take up LYE’s technique of painting directly onto film stock. McLaren was never completely comfortable at the GPO and only produced one significant piece for them, the inventive colour animation Love on the Wing (1938) which advertises the joys of letter writing. McLaren left for America in 1939 and then in 1941 went to work again for Grierson at the newly formed National Film Board of Canada where he headed the animation unit. Under his supervision it was to become among the most innovative and influential animation producers in the world. The extensive range and formal innovation of his own work with the National Film Board was to secure him a reputation as one of the most important animators in the history of cinema, as well as a key figure in avant-garde and experimental film. Begone Dull Care (1949) matches abstract patterns painted and scraped onto the film with jazz music by the Oscar Peterson Trio, while the Academy Award-winning Neighbours (1952) uses the technique of pixilation (stop frame animation of objects and people) to tell its moral parable about territorial violence. He was showered with awards internationally, including a BAFTA for the charming Pas de Deux (1968). In later years he also worked on educational programmes with UNESCO. Although McLaren’s British work is relatively slight, particularly in comparison with his achievements in Canada, it was sufficient to make him a key figure in British experimental cinema between the wars. McLaren died on 27 January 1987 in Montreal, Canada.
Bibliography: Maynard Collins, Norman McLaren (Ottawa: Canadian Film Institute, 1976). Shane MEADOWS Shane Meadows is one of the brightest new talents to have emerged in recent British cinema. He was born in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire on 26 December 1972 and raised in Nottingham. Self-taught as a film-maker, he made more than twenty amateur films on a borrowed camcorder while out of work. These include Where’s the Money Ronnie? (1995) which first gained him some public attention, winning a short film competition sponsored by the National Film Theatre. The hour-long Small Time (1996), funded by the BFI, was set on a working-class council estate in the suburbs of Nottingham, the setting for all his films, and featured a number of his friends in the cast. Its authenticity and acute observation were rewarded with the Michael Powell Award at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. He made his feature debut with TwentyFourSeven (1997). Set in a boxing club run by Alan Darcy (Bob Hoskins), the film focuses on the lives of a group of disaffected young men and their attempts to find some direction in life. The film is solidly in the tradition of British social realism, with location shooting and mobile camera work, the use of nonprofessional actors and semi-improvised dialogue. It has a rough, naturalistic feel, but Meadows brings to this familiar formula elements of humour and broad characterisation, as well as a more self-conscious cinematic vocabulary typified by long takes, wide shots and monochrome. The film is concerned with the impact of environment on the characters in a way which is reminiscent of Ken LOACH’s Kes (1969). A Room for Romeo Brass (1999) is shot in a similar style but is more sombre in tone. Working with regular writing collaborator and long-time friend Paul Fraser, Meadows based the film in part on their shared childhood experiences. The film shifts between comedy and violence with startling effectiveness, showcasing a mesmerising performance from Paddy Considine as the unstable, increasingly menacing Morell. A political undercurrent is detectable in these films in their concern for social injustice and exclusion, although this is never overtly stated. Once Upon a Time in the Midlands (2002) is in danger of being better remembered for its title than its content. The idea of playing out the conventions of a western in the modern-day Midlands is a neat enough concept, and the film has an attractive cast including Robert Carlyle and Rhys Ifans, but the premise tends to wear thin and the film quickly feels like just another undernourished contemporary British comedy. It is the only film Meadows has made to date on which he didn’t have
final cut. There are shades of the western genre again in Dead Man’s Shoes (2004) with its dark, almost mythic story of revenge, but this was a real return to form. The film, which contains another fine performance from Paddy Considine, was well received. It also set a new precedent for Meadows in being his first film shot outside of Nottingham (it was made in and around Matlock in the Derbyshire Peaks). This darkly compelling film sees Considine as a kind of avenging angel who returns home to inflict a very rough justice on those who have been responsible for brutally bullying his brother. Subsequently, he has returned to the short film format with Northern Soul (2004). In just four feature films Meadows has already established a considerable reputation (acknowledged by a small plethora of nominations and prizes at European film festivals) and forged a recognisable cinematic signature, bringing a distinctive visual style, warmth and idiosyncrasy to familiar material. The spirit of British realism appears to be in safe hands. British Feature Films: TwentyFourSeven (1997); A Room for Romeo Brass (1999); Once Upon a Time in the Midlands (2002); Dead Man’s Shoes (2004). Peter MEDAK Peter Medak was born 23 December 1937 in Budapest, Hungary. He came to Britain in 1956 just before the Hungarian uprising was crushed by the Soviet Union. He entered the film industry in the late 1950s working as an editor and then as an assistant director. Working his way up from second unit director on Funeral in Berlin (1966) and associate producer on Kaleidoscope (1966), he finally made his directorial debut with Negatives (1968), a bizarre psychological drama featuring Glenda Jackson which centres on the sexual fantasies of the lead characters which include roleplaying as the murderer Dr Crippen and his wife. His second film, The Ruling Class (1971), which was nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes, is very much a product of its time. A Pythonesque black farce adapted from Peter Barnes’ successful play, it stars Peter O’Toole as a demented aristocrat who thinks he is Jesus and boasts a fine supporting cast of character actors including Arthur Lowe and Alastair Sim. The tone is wildly uneven and self-indulgent, but it does take some timely satirical swipes at the British class system. A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (1971) is also adapted from a play, this time Peter Nichols’ sympathetic account of a couple trying to cope with the demands of raising a severely disabled daughter. The performances by Janet Suzman and Alan Bates are convincingly touching and the film offsets its despairing narrative with humour.
as well as surprisingly successful performances from the pop stars Martin and Gary Kemp and. Peter Sellers. The Odd Job (1978). if minor. more predictably. sensitivity in handling actors and strong sense of social context have only rarely found full expression in the cinema. The Krays (1990) is a sharply detailed portrayal of the notorious East End twin gangsters. Of Italian parentage. on 6 January 1954. Anthony MINGHELLA Anthony Minghella first achieved acclaim as a television scriptwriter and playwright before coming into cinema in the 1990s. Ghost in the Noonday Sun (1973). The Odd Job (1978). Emboldened by this success he returned to the States where he made two interesting. His career in British cinema stalled in the 1970s and he worked mainly on television with series like The Professionals and Return of the Saint. but have on several occasions produced really interesting work. Returning to Britain he made two fine ‘true life’ crime films which did much to re-establish his reputation. It benefits from a strong sense of time and place. He subsequently moved to Hollywood where he again worked in television on fairly routine projects and made three extremely varied but largely unremarkable films including the ghost story The Changeling (1980) and the misjudged pastiche Zorro. After studying at the University of Hull. a lightweight pirate comedy that was blown off course by the egotistical behaviour of its star. British Feature Films: Negatives (1968). moving retelling of the tragic Derek Bentley case (Bentley was executed for the killing of a policeman although he wasn’t the one who pulled the trigger). films: the noirish black comedy Romeo is Bleeding (1993) and the family melodrama Pontiac Moon (1994). The Ruling Class (1971). It again recreates its working-class milieu with considerable sureness of touch. made with ex-Python Graham Chapman. His only cinema film was another surreal comedy. A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (1971). It can only be regretted that Medak’s career has been so hit and miss. Billie Whitelaw as their monstrous mother.150 anthony minghella After this promising start as a director Medak had the misfortune to be involved in the disastrous Ghost in the Noonday Sun (1973). The Krays (1990). Let Him Have It (1991). After the abysmal horror sequel Species II (1998). he was born in Ryde. his liberal leanings. on the Isle of Wight. he returned to television working on popular series such as Law and Order and House. he moved into television . the Gay Blade (1981). and then virtually buried by its American backers. which only had a very limited release. Let Him Have It (1991) is a sober.
He was made a CBE in 2001 and more recently took on the task of chairing the BFI. He worked on popular series such as the children’s soap Grange Hill. The story of the morally ambivalent Ripley (Matt Damon) and his relationship with the socialite Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law) preserves the homoerotic undertones of the original as well as its air of detachment. might actually be of more lasting merit. Mr Wonderful (1993). he was to hit the critical and box-office jackpot with The English Patient (1996). Madly. The film deals with bereavement through the formula of a romantic comedy. winning innumerable international awards capped by nine Oscars including Best Director. He also wrote regularly for the stage and radio during this period. If it lacks the subtle complexities of the novel. Set during the American Civil War. his fourth film. winning him a BAFTA for its screenplay. This breakthrough took Minghella to Hollywood were he made another rom-com. Minghella’s talents have also encompassed producing. which was made for the BBC but which obtained a limited theatrical release. it nonetheless found a response with audiences and critics. and in 2005 he made a party political broadcast for the Labour Party. with Iris (2001) and The Quiet American (2002). adapted from Michael Ondaatje’s acclaimed novel. the American-made The Talented Mr Ripley (1999). The film is visually sumptuous and its deeply romantic story of love in wartime is reminiscent of David LEAN’s later films. with Alan Rickman’s ghost returning to haunt his grieving lover (Juliet Stevenson). The London Theatre Critics named him their most promising new playwright in 1984 and recognised Made in Bangkok with their award as Best Play in 1986. Although filmed in Europe and nominally British. Rene ´ e Zellwegger and Jude Law. It manages to capture the unusual tone of Patricia Highsmith’s novel with its combination of thriller and psychological drama. Minghella is a talented film-maker who has regret- . In retrospect. Unfortunately it didn’t replicate the success of his debut. He returned to television for a version of Samuel Becket’s Play (2000) and then made the big-budget western melodrama Cold Mountain (2003) starring Nicole Kidman. the film achieved a degree of commercial success and was well received. However. Deeply (1991). the film’s narrative and setting place it firmly within American cinematic traditions.anthony minghella 151 as both a writer and script editor. the adult soap opera EastEnders and the much-loved Inspector Morse. it is made in Minghella’s typically expansive style with emotions writ large. For his critics. but again was showered with awards. combining the epic with the intimate. Genuinely touching and funny. His debut as a writer-director of films came with Truly. establishing a reputation for the sensitivity of his writing.
He was born in London on 23 April 1911. For supporters. He established a solid reputation. Neame switched to producing and scriptwriting. Deeply (1991). He worked initially as his director of photography on three Noe ¨ l Coward projects (he was nominated for a second Oscar for Blithe Spirit in 1945). He photographed many quota quickies in the 1930s. his films are well made but have lacked the individualism seemingly required to achieve auteur status. With Major Barbara (1941). winning his first Oscar nomination for his work on POWELL and PRESSBURGER’s One of Our Aircraft Is Missing (1942). romanticism and visual panache to what might otherwise be routine commercial material. Ronald Neame proved to be a reliable and versatile commercial film-maker but also one who defies easy categorisation. Cold Mountain (2003). After a fact-finding trip to Hollywood on behalf of Rank. The jury may be out. making important contributions to LEAN’s two Dickens adaptations and to the classic romance Brief Encounter (1945). picking up further Academy . Instead he has been the epitome of the mainstream studio director. along with a number of George Formby vehicles at Ealing. but he is certainly a film-maker who is difficult to ignore. After his father’s early death in a car accident. His father was the noted portrait photographer and film director Elwin Neame and his mother the actress Ivy Close. he had to leave public school and went to work for an oil company. David LEAN. he entered the film industry at the Elstree studios of British International Pictures in 1927 and worked his way up from clapperboy to focus puller and eventually cinematographer. a model of professionalism whose output has often mirrored the ups and downs of the industry. With his mother’s help.152 ronald neame tably chosen to work on glossy. he began an association with the film’s editor. Efficient and craftsman-like. N Ronald NEAME In a directorial career stretching for over forty years. overblown international blockbusters which make limited use of abilities which were seen to better effect on smaller-scale. British Feature Films: Truly. Madly. more intrinsically British subjects. he brings intelligence. In 1943 they founded the production company Cineguild with Anthony Havelock-Allen which operated under the Rank umbrella. The English Patient (1996).
so that the routine action hokum of The Golden Salamander (1949) was followed by the excellent sub-Ealing comedy The Card (1952) featuring Alec Guinness. here he is rewarded with memorable performances by John Mills and Alec Guinness as the two officers engaged in a violent clash of personalities. The best-received work from this period was The Prime of Miss Jean Brody (1969). as well as having a brief. his partnership with LEAN ended rather acrimoniously when LEAN took over the direction of The Passionate Friends (1948) from Neame.ronald neame 153 Award nominations in these new roles. He directed Judy Garland in her last film. spinning out the thin premise of The Million Pound Note (1953) with some style and again drawing a fine performance from Guinness as an idiosyncratic painter in his pleasing adaptation of Joyce Cary’s novel The Horse’s Mouth (1958). This popular adaptation of the stage version of Muriel Spark’s novel provided Maggie Smith with a show-off role which duly won her an Oscar. His 1960s output continued to be extremely variable. He was responsible for establishing the ‘disaster movie’ genre with the immensely successful . Throughout his career his work was uneven. eventually becoming an American citizen. He made his debut as a director for Cineguild with Take My Life (1947). Escape from Zahrain (1961) and A Man Could Get Killed (1966). Neame took up permanent residence in Hollywood. on which he worked uncredited. Like The Horse’s Mouth. it is a sympathetic account of the nefarious rise of a humble clerk as he finds various ways to take advantage of the hierarchies of the British class system. Neame showed a real lightness of touch handling comic subjects. After the middling musical Scrooge (1970) with Albert Finney in the title role. unsuccessful stint in Hollywood where he was eventually replaced as director on The Seventh Sin (1957). a compelling barrackroom melodrama which also shows his skill in handling actors. I Could Go on Singing (1963). Neame’s liking for non-conformist characters reaches its height in his most acclaimed film Tunes of Glory (1960). It included two Swinging London films. the amiable caper movie Gambit (1966) with Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine and the instantly dated risque ´ comedy Prudence and the Pill (1968). a more than competent HITCHCOCK-style thriller which showed Neame’s technical skill as a film-maker. and had another spell in the States where he completed two unremarkable projects. Based on Arnold Bennett’s novel. it was made for his own production company Knightsbridge Films. but the film has considerable difficulty dealing with the essential theatricality of the story and characters. Unfortunately. In the 1950s he also made the intriguing wartime espionage tale The Man Who Never Was (1955).
Bibliography: Ronald Neame. although he followed it with one of the worst examples of this cycle. The Odessa File (1974). When these were good he produced highly effective films which often showcased outstanding acting performances. were recognised with a BAFTA Fellowship and the CBE. from Frederick Forsyth’s bestselling novel. He also made two enjoyable. Foreign Body (1986). Tunes of Glory (1960). After studying English at Cambridge. Mike NEWELL Mike Newell has established a reputation as one of the most reliably popular British directors currently at work. The Chalk Garden (1964). MD: Scarecrow Press. then they reflect the contemporary commercial climate of British mainstream cinema. adopting an unostentatious approach which relied greatly on his actors and which frequently left him at the mercy of the script. His final film was The Magic Balloon (1990). Prudence and the Pill (1968. If his films tend towards the middle-of-the-road. a children’s adventure designed to show off the new ShowScan widescreen format which consequently only had a limited release. His achievements. lightweight pieces with Walter Matthau. I Could Go on Singing (1963). Throughout his career Neame was always a smoothly professional film-maker. The best of his limited British work in this period is the tautly effective thriller The Odessa File (1974). co-directed with Fielder Cook). he was to spend the next twenty years . Hopscotch (1980) and First Monday in October (1981). The Horse’s Mouth (1958). he joined Granada Television’s trainee directors scheme in 1963. Nothing can forgive the atrocious sex comedy Foreign Body (1986) which looks like a relic from another era. Windom’s Way (1957). Scrooge (1970). Making his directorial debut with the documentary Sharon in 1964. Meteor (1979). The Man Who Never Was (1955). He was born in St Albans on 28 March 1942. which include his active role in the industry union ACT and with the British Society of Cinematographers. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969). Mister Moses (1965). The Golden Salamander (1949).154 mike newell The Poseidon Adventure (1972). where he directed student theatre productions. Straight from the Horse’s Mouth (Oxford and Lanham. British Feature Films: Take My Life (1947). Even on his poorer commercial assignments there is an ability to serve the narrative no matter how inadequate this might be. 2002). both awarded in 1996. with Jon Voight uncovering a Neo-Nazi group. Gambit (1966). The Million Pound Note (1953). The Card (1952).
played beautifully by Miranda Richardson. The film exposes a pervasive national culture of snobbery and moral decay. It was only with his third film. takes a similarly abrasive look at the experiences of an immigrant Chinese family in contemporary Britain. Written by Shelagh Delaney and based on the life of Ruth Ellis. Newell manages to pull off the not inconsiderable feat of integrating a metaphor for the freedom of the American West into the drab reality of the setting without losing credibility. The more humorous The Good Father (1987) turns an equally acerbic eye on gender relationships in the avaricious Britain of the 1980s. His polished television film of The Man in the Iron Mask (1977) obtained a limited theatrical release and suggested the possibilities of a film career. observed with a telling eye for detail. ethnicity and gender as they impact on British life. repressive 1950s Britain where the brash. it depicts the frustrated lives of two Irish children living in a tower block whose imaginations are opened when their grandfather returns home with a white horse. Combining realism and fantasy. The gloomy. These three films show a developed sensitivity to questions of class. Nothing that Newell had made to that point could have predicted the extraordinary commercial success which was to greet Four Weddings and a . which was made with American backing. Into the West (1992) is in many respects Newell’s most interesting and unusual British feature film. that he made an impact. and his first wholly British subject. Set in the 1920s and focusing on the frustrations of four very different women who make their escape to an Italian castle. His first cinema film was The Awakening (1980). Soursweet (1988). scripted by Ian McEwan. working-class Ellis. It is a rather muddled combination of borrowings from various Egyptian mummy films with elements of the then fashionable cycle of child-possession horrors.mike newell 155 in television working on a wide range of programmes for commercial companies and the BBC. the last woman to be executed in Britain. it balances its emotional conflicts with an eye for pictorial charm. liberal-minded Amazing Grace and Chuck (1987) in America. Anthony Hopkins and Jim Broadbent are the unhappy men out for revenge on their apparently liberated ex-wives as the former enters into a child custody battle. Newell continued to work for British television and also made the low-budget. New Zealand-based chase thriller Bad Blood (1981) didn’t fare a great deal better. These included populist series like Budgie. a fine version of the Thomas Hardy short story The Melancholy Hussar and plays by David Hare and Jack Rosenthal. Dance with a Stranger (1985) is a haunting evocation of a narrow. Enchanted April (1991) deals with repressed lives in a very different manner. is as much a victim of circumstances as the wealthy lover who she kills.
Newell’s success inevitably took him to America where he made the minor drama Pushing Tin (1999) set in the macho world of air traffic controllers and the impressive Donnie Brasco (1997). Newell has been one of the most commercially successful directors working in recent British films. a complex. The Good Father (1987). Dance with a Stranger (1985). strikingly well acted addition to the overworked Mafioso genre which may well be Newell’s best film to date. Into the West (1992). aimed blatantly at American audiences and riddled with outdated representations of class. Soursweet (1988). Enchanted April (1991). managing to secure a strong position within the mainstream while retaining an unusual intelligence and wit. The film still divides opinion but is unquestionably one of the most significant British films of the 1990s. Olivier has widely been regarded as the finest classical actor of his generation (although not . Mona Lisa Smile (2003). it was a personification of everything that was wrong with British films of that decade: vacuous. For critics. British Feature Films: The Man in the Iron Mask (1977). although returning Newell to the subject of 1950s female repression with its story of an inspirational teacher at a tight-laced girl’s college. An Awfully Big Adventure (1995). Next he returned rather startlingly to the drab 1950s with An Awfully Big Adventure (1995). O Laurence (Lord) OLIVIER It is beyond the remit of this guide to do justice to the career of Laurence Olivier as much of his most important work lies in the theatre and in acting rather than as a film director. For supporters. Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994). The Awakening (1980). No amount of argument can change the fact that it was the highest grossing British film ever at the time or that it won Newell a BAFTA as Best Director.156 laurence (lord) olivier Funeral (1994). is nonetheless a sentimental vehicle for Julia Roberts. filmed in Newell’s glossiest style. this is a genuinely funny romantic comedy which was sophisticated enough to please international audiences while preserving its intrinsically British qualities. Bad Blood (1981). If some of his work is overly conventional and safe. a low-key film set in a Liverpool theatre company with Hugh Grant cast diametrically against the image of infuriating niceness established by Four Weddings. his best films have shown a sharp eye for the nuances of British life.
The film established his screen image as a suavely romantic figure. something which was confirmed by his role in HITCHCOCK’s Rebecca (1940). created the National Theatre on the South Bank. like many British stage actors he was initially dismissive of this populist medium. Laurence Olivier was born in Dorking. but the five films he directed include three of the most effective interpretations of Shakespeare on film. Surrey on 22 May 1907. Olivier milks the play for its full patriotic content. He acted with the Old Vic. Olivier’s debut as a film director came with his version of Henry V (1944). The film is surprisingly adventurous stylistically: beginning on the stage of the Globe in Elizabethan London. Although he began acting in films from the early 1930s. It became the first British . was a star in the West End and on Broadway and took part in prestigious tours to Russia and Australia.laurence (lord) olivier 157 everyone shared this view) and he dominated British theatre for four decades. star and adaptor. The son of a clergyman. The bravura battle sequence is set to William Walton’s stirring music. going on to establish an unparalleled reputation as an interpreter of classical roles. shooting in black and white with the camera stalking him as he wanders the corridors of Elsinore. He admitted that it was only when he went to Hollywood and appeared as Heathcliff in William Wyler’s Wuthering Heights (1939) that he began to really take film acting seriously. focusing on Hamlet’s inner turmoil. as it progresses we shift into a less theatrical mode (although still with the use of painted scenery). Olivier’s own performance combines tenderness (while walking among his men on the night before battle) with a barnstorming delivery for the patriotic speeches. he moved from romantic leading roles to character parts in British and American films during a career that stretched across six decades. aided by fluent camerawork and tight editing. It is easy for his achievements as a film director to seem marginal in the circumstances. particularly Shakespeare. with Olivier emphasising the psychological aspects of the play. With war still raging. The American Academy instituted a special award to recognise his achievements as the film’s director. He followed it with a film of Hamlet (1948) which drastically cut the original text. Hamlet’s soliloquies are delivered in voice-over as internal monologues. In the cinema. even prefacing it with a dedication to the British armed forces. Olivier adopts a much sterner tone here. producer. until at the Battle of Agincourt the film has become fully cinematic with the camera out in the open fields. He trained as an actor at the Central School and made his professional stage debut in 1922. made for Two Cities under the Rank umbrella.
his three Shakespeare films succeeded in bringing the plays to a wider audience and stand as benchmarks of how to transfer them to film. it is easy to underestimate Olivier’s contribution to cinema. his last two films as a director are something of a disappointment.158 laurence (lord) olivier film to win the Oscar as Best Picture and won Olivier the award for Best Actor. He also did some fine work for television including appearing in John Mortimer’s A Voyage Round My Father (1982) and playing King Lear (1983). of Olivier’s Shakespeare films is Richard III (1955). His final film was a modest version of Checkov’s Three Sisters (1970) featuring himself and third wife Joan Plowright. and perhaps finest. . showing a real fluency with cinematic technique that only makes it regrettable that he didn’t have time to exploit his gifts as a film-maker more fully. It seemed a rather tame project for Olivier to tackle. who actually gives the better performance. In comparison. He provided a suitably sonorous narration for the landmark television series The World at War (1974). Although some of his later roles were beneath him. chilling playing a Nazi dentist in John SCHLESINGER’s Marathon Man (1976) and touching as a First World War veteran in Derek JARMAN’s War Requiem (1989). He was lauded with accolades throughout his life. The Prince and the Showgirl (1957). Made for KORDA’s London Films. being knighted in 1947 and then made a life peer in 1970. He died on 11 July 1989. Perfectly respectable. he was memorable opposite Michael Caine in Sleuth (1972). it makes striking use of colour and mise en sce`ne. Even more so. Because of his remarkable achievements in the theatre. and has a remarkable supporting case including Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud. it lacks the verve and imagination which lit his Shakespeare adaptations. British Feature Films: Henry V (1944). Hamlet (1948). The film is hampered by the lack of onscreen chemistry between Olivier and Marilyn Monroe. a magnificently melodramatic reading of the play with a spellbinding performance from Olivier as the wicked king. they stand as remarkable films in their own right. The film world celebrated him with an Honorary Oscar in 1979 and a BAFTA Fellowship in 1977. The Prince and the Showgirl (1957) was adapted from a Terence Rattigan play which Olivier had appeared in on stage with his second wife Vivien Leigh. Richard III (1955). He continued to act in films and television well into the 1980s. At the very least. The third. Olivier plays Richard as a charismatic figure so that the audience is implicated in their enjoyment of his immoral activities. Three Sisters (1970).
A Grand Day Out (1989) was started while at the National Film School. here borrowed from science fiction and caper movie originals. 1982). one of his early efforts was shown by the BBC in 1975. both of which won Academy Awards as well as BAFTAs. television programmes and music promos. P Nick PARK If the international reputation of British animation has never been higher than in the last ten years then much of the credit for this must go to the Bristol-based company Aardman and their most famous director Nick Park. but finally completed for Aardman. It was here that he first met David Sproxton and Peter Lord. who invited him to join them on completion of his course. as well as a taste for quirky humour. 1980). Along the way Park also worked on various advertisements. CA: A. the endearing duo of Wallace and Gromit. . founders of Aardman Animation. The meticulous creation of the claymation animals. humorous characterisations. absent-minded inventor (beautifully voiced by Peter Sallis) and his rather more streetwise canine sidekick. including the innovative video for Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sledgehammer’ (1987). including the wonderfully precise sets and props. Robert L. a cheese-loving. Confessions of an Actor: An Autobiography (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. He took a degree in Communication Arts at Sheffield Hallam University and then studied animation with the National Film School. His first significant work for Aardman was the beguiling short film Creature Comforts (1989) which uses animated clay figures of animals synchronised to accompany a soundtrack of voices recorded from members of the public. Barnes. Nick Park’s interest in animation began as a teenager. Lancashire on 6 December 1958. It was the first appearance of Park’s finest creations. the first of many awards to follow. The film won an Oscar. Laurence Olivier: Theatre and Cinema (San Diego. provides for rich. Wallace and Gromit were to appear in two more shorts. S. Daniels. particularly their expressive faces. is well in evidence.nick park 159 Bibliography: Laurence Olivier. The Wrong Trousers (1993) and A Close Shave (1995). Park’s characteristic attention to detail. The Wrong Trousers is a miniature masterpiece of stop frame animation with brilliantly timed gags and inventive recycling of a variety of genre movie cliche ´ s. Born in Preston.
The carefully observed settings take us back to a very British world of allotments and prize-winning vegetables. co-directed with Steve Box). London on 14 February 1944. which tend to take the film away from the intrinsically British qualities which were such a strength in the short films. It showed a sympathy for young people which was to reappear in some of Parker’s later films. (1970). It was a logical step to move into feature animation and this came with Chicken Run (2000).160 (sir) alan parker A central part of the appeal of Park’s work lies in his ability to tap into well-loved British traditions. His first foray into filmmaking was the script for S. which brings back Wallace and Gromit. The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005). most memorable of which are the series of dryly humorous Cinzano adverts featuring Leonard Rossiter and Joan Collins. Yet another Academy Award was soon on its way. where he won . it is ironic that the majority of his films have been made in America. The partnership seems to have resulted in some compromises. (Sir) Alan PARKER Alan Parker. The film is a delight. For someone with such passionate views about his native industry. who was born in Islington. One can only assume there will be more to come. David Puttnam and Alan Marshall. not least in the eccentric friendship of Wallace and Gromit. there is something of the quality of the Ealing comedies or of television series like Dad’s Army in the warmth which Park extends to his oddball characters.K. The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005. That year he formed the Alan Parker Film Company with Marshall which was responsible for producing a string of stylish television commercials. Helena Bonham-Carter). also released as Melody.W.L. For British viewers at least. British Feature Films: Chicken Run (2000. not least in the affectionate references to war movies like The Great Escape (1963) and in the dazzling set pieces. borrowings from the Hammer horrors and slapstick climaxes. He returned to rather firmer ground with his second feature. co-directed with Peter Lord). with its highly appropriate voices (Ralph Fiennes. There is still much to enjoy here. where he met two of his future collaborators. such as using Hollywood star Mel Gibson for the main character’s voice. which Puttnam produced. He began his career in the early 1960s as a copywriter at the advertising company Collett Dickenson Pearce. In the early 1970s he also made two shorts films and worked in television for the BBC. has been an outspoken critic of British cinema yet ended up occupying some of its senior administrative positions. made in partnership with Steven Spielberg’s Dreamworks. Park was made a CBE in 1997.A.
from whence he has only rarely returned. The film’s success swiftly led him to Hollywood.(sir) alan parker 161 a BAFTA for directing Jack Rosenthal’s touching wartime drama The Evacuees (1975). After failing to get funding for several self-penned scripts. Midnight Express (1978) was a British-American co-production with Puttnam and Marshall producing (as with Bugsy Malone) and financial backing from Columbia. which seemed to confirm the criticisms of him. Ridley Scott) with the suggestion that this background has resulted in films which are stylistically impressive but devoid of real depth. feel-good story about students at New York’s School for the Performing Arts proved to be an enormous commercial success. He followed it with the modest marital drama Shoot the Moon (1982) featuring Albert Finney and Diane Keaton and then returned to Britain for Pink Floyd The Wall (1982).to highbudget mainstream films and American cinema offered far more opportunity in this area than the poverty-stricken British cinema of the 1970s and 1980s. Returning to America he made Birdy (1984). Parker himself has been on the receiving end of a fair amount of criticism. a grossly overblown version of the group’s self-pitying concept album with Bob Geldof in the lead role. despite outcries at its xenophobia and accusations that it wallowed in the violence it was condemning. he finally made his feature film debut with Bugsy Malone (1976). but for others it was a typical white man’s view of . and the flashy. Parker’s inclination has been towards medium. Its lurid depiction of a young American suffering the horrors of the Turkish prison system divided critics. a quirky musical set in prohibition-era America where the getaway cars are pedal powered. Its one redeeming feature was Gerald Scarfe’s strikingly cruel animation sequences. an affecting drama of two childhood friends trying to come to terms with the trauma of serving in Vietnam. coruscating attack on the ineptitudes of British commercial film-making and the intellectual vanity of its art house output. Far more interesting and entertaining was his highly personal television documentary A Turnip-Head’s Guide to the British Cinema (1986). Many praised its recreation of events from the 1960s civil rights movement and also the performance of Gene Hackman. Fame (1980) was Parker’s first wholly American film. the machine guns fire ice cream and the cast is made up entirely of children (including a very young Jodie Foster). a funny. it still won an Oscar for its scriptwriter Oliver Stone and a nomination for Parker. Mississippi Burning (1988) again divided the critics. macabre thriller Angel Heart (1987). some commentators have placed him alongside other directors whose training was in advertising (Hugh HUDSON. Its dynamic.
it was rather a surprise when he became its chairman in 1998. he was tasked with the thorny job of utilising the Lottery money which Tony Blair’s government had earmarked for the regeneration of British commercial cinema. George PEARSON The pioneer film-maker George Pearson was born in Kennington. Parker’s frequently histrionic style for once seemed thoroughly suited to the melodramatic bad taste of the original show. Of his two Irish-set films. London on 19 March 1875. audience-pleasing entertainments. Considering his views of the BFI. In Parker’s best films he has shown an ability to anchor a progressive message within accessible. a lavish version of the Andrew Lloyd-Webber/Tim Rice musical with Madonna starring. This has led to unsurprising accusations of philistinism which tend to underestimate the skill required to successfully pull off what he attempts to do. Pink Floyd The Wall (1982). was partly British-financed. The Commitments (1991) and Angela’s Ashes (1999). 1991). diluting its subject to make it palatable to mid-American audiences. He was awarded the CBE in 1995 and knighted in 2002. the bizarre but oddly fascinating The Road to Wellville (1994) with Anthony Hopkins as the eccentric advocate of healthy living. Angela’s Ashes (1999). His other work includes two further American films. These films at least showed the sincerity of Parker’s liberalism. adapted from Frank McCourt’s best-selling autobiographical novel. It won Parker a BAFTA as Best Director and has something of the inspirational qualities of Fame. Angela’s Ashes. and the unconvincing thriller The Life of David Gale (2003). Evita (1996). Take Ten: Contemporary British Film Directors (Oxford: Clarendon Press. engaging adaptation of Roddy Doyle’s novel about a group of young Dubliners finding a way out of poverty through music. the former is the more successful being a lively. Evita (1996). The Commitments (1991). A similar response met Come See the Paradise (1990) which told the neglected story of the internment of Japanese-Americans in the Second World War. was too sentimental a view of childhood hardship to be really effective. British Feature Films: Bugsy Malone (1976). Subsequently. as head of the newly formed UK Film Council. It’s a pity that circumstances and personal inclination have so often taken his talents away from his native industry. Dr Kellogg. He is certainly a director with visual panache and one who isn’t afraid to speak his mind. He trained as a teacher and spent close to .162 george pearson African-American history. Bibliography: Jonathan Hacker and David Price. Midnight Express (1978).
In 1930 he supervised the sound recording for James Whale’s Hollywood version of Journey’s End. rising to be a headteacher. where he later helped to establish film schools in emerging Commonwealth countries. being a founding member of the London Film Society and President of the Association of British Film Directors. During his visits to America in the late 1920s he became interested in the development of sound technology. although he could find few takers back home. In his attempts to create a genuinely aesthetic approach to cinema. Working from his own screenplays. His creative status in Britain was recognised with a royal premiere in 1924 for his powerful study of the aftermath of the First World War on ordinary lives. married with three children. He quickly became one of the leading figures in British film-making. he abandoned his teaching career and entered the fledgling British film industry. In 1918 he established his own production company. culminating in his series of dashing adventures featuring the character Ultus: The Man from the Dead. Welsh-Pearson. making considerable use of the expressive possibilities of the medium. Reveille. his amateur efforts at scriptwriting having impressed Pathe ´ sufficiently for them to appoint him as production head of their small British operation.george pearson 163 twenty years in the profession. Pearson was a tireless campaigner for the medium that he had so dramatically entered in its early years. In 1934 he parted company with Welsh and made a living shooting quota quickies (which he had once campaigned against) for Twickenham. designed to rival the success of the French Fantoˆmas serial. the latter was eventually withdrawn for re-cutting. In 1951 he was awarded an OBE and became an Honorary Fellow of the British Film Academy. He was at Gaumont from 1915 where he was successful in pushing forward the visual fluency of British narrative films. During the Second World War he worked under Cavalcanti at the GPO Film Unit and then was appointed Director of the Colonial Film Unit. Welsh-Pearson eventually went bankrupt in 1930 and tragically a number of his films were subsequently lost. achieving a popular success with a sequence of four films featuring the engaging Betty Balfour as chirpy working-class heroine Squibs. Pearson developed a form of populist cinema which employed stylised techniques. In 1913. Pearson has often been . Although he continued to direct. For extending the possibilities of cinematic narrative and visual expressiveness. in conjunction with Thomas Welsh and built studios at Craven Park. the sometimes melodramatic vision of films like Nothing Else Matters (1920) and The Little People (1926) didn’t always meet with approval. She was to become the top female star of the period. In 1926 he was forced to sell Craven Park and look for financial backing from the States.
the film is an unnerving study of mental disintegration with the audience drawn into the mind of the central character. he made the surreal short film Two Men and a Wardrobe (1958) and the chillingly understated thriller Knife in the Water (1962) in Poland.164 roman polanski accorded the position of ‘father of British film’. Life and Laughter (1923). Little wonder that his films have so often been marked by pessimism and an acute awareness of human brutality. Reveille (1924). After attending the / Lodz Film School. absurdist drama set on a Northumbrian island. being nominated for an Oscar. George Pearson. Squibs (1921). 1957). With only limited English. he returned with his Jewish parents at the age of three to their native Poland. a Pinterish. The latter achieved international recognition. W. The owners of a castle. Following the Nazi invasion. Repulsion (1965). Griffith. Ultus: The Man from the Dead (1915). his mother perished at Auschwitz. bizarre hallucination sequences and startling imagery. Bibliography: Christine Gledhill. initially to France and then on to Britain. Born in Paris on 18 August 1933. increasingly deranged world and eventually murders her boyfriend and landlord. including Franc ¸ ois Truffaut and Michelangelo Antonioni. but its chilly reception by the communist authorities at home led to his departure. Flashback: An Autobiography of a British Filmmaker (London: Allen & Unwin. . He followed it with the almost equally striking Cul de Sac (1966). an eccentrically feminised man (Donald Pleasance) and his wife (Franc ¸ oise Dorle ´ ac). The Little People (1926). Reframing British Cinema: 1918– 1928 (London: BFI. a modest. His parents were sent to concentration camps and although he was reunited with his father. Love. not far short of his ninety-eighth birthday. He died in Malvern on 6 February 1973. 2003). Huntingtower (1927). The Better ’Ole (1918). who (briefly in some cases) were attracted to make films in Britain during the boom period of the 1960s. he was smuggled out of the country to live with relatives in Paris. Roman POLANSKI Roman Polanski was among a group of distinguished European directors. find themselves held captive by two gangsters and enter into a quirky. home-grown equivalent to American cinema’s D. Selected British Feature Films: A Study in Scarlet (1914). With its sudden eruptions into violence. he managed to direct one of the most disturbing British films of the era. Nothing Else Matters (1920). Catherine Deneuve plays a repressed Belgian woman working in London who withdraws into her own.
Oliver Twist (2005). a rather romanticised version of Hardy. The end of this fruitful period in Britain was marked by the rather disappointing Dance of the Vampires (1967). is a handsome adaptation of Dickens which. an offbeat comedy-adventure Pirates (1986) and the overblown Gothic horror of The Ninth Gate (1999). His vision is a distinctly European one. which took Polanski full circle back to the Poland of his childhood and which won him the Palme d’Or at Cannes and an Oscar as Best Director (which he could not collect in person).roman polanski 165 tense game of cat and mouse. unnerving horror piece. a bizarre. Polanski’s direct involvement with British cinema has been relatively small. Dance of the Vampires (1967). and Tess (1979). Cul de Sac (1966). adapted from Ariel Dorfman’s play. Under American law he has not been able to return to the States. the commercially successful Rosemary’s Baby (1968). handled with a coolly detached sense of the absurdity of human existence. It was hard not to see the effect of his personal experiences in his savage. but in these films we still see his characteristic concern with disturbed psychology and violence. Polanski made another stylish. Bitter Moon (1992). Macbeth (1971). Bitter Moon (1992). but two films offer a more characteristically edgy. but has still managed to make five European films which have British input. British Feature Films: Repulsion (1965). . but he is clearly a major international film-maker who has produced some memorable work in Britain. surprisingly for Polanski. His most recent film. rather than specifically British. an attempt to spoof the Hammer horror films which proved less darkly amusing than the originals. bloody version of Macbeth (1971). Death and the Maiden (1995). He is also prohibited from setting foot in Britain due to an extradition treaty with America. erotic melodrama. but after the brutal murder of his pregnant wife Sharon Tate by the followers of Charles Manson he returned to Britain. In America. and The Pianist (2002). He subsequently returned to America where he made the masterly neo-noir Chinatown (1974). Tess (1979). winning himself a BAFTA. doesn’t really do justice to the dark heart of the novel. the Hitchcockian thriller Frantic (1988). The Pianist (2002). sombre meditation on personal and political oppression: Death and the Maiden (1995). but following his arrest for statutory rape (as the result of an affair with an underage model) he fled America claiming that he would not receive a fair trial. are minor pieces. Oliver Twist (2005). but this didn’t stop him making three American-backed films in Europe.
Thriller (1979). Influential work by writers like Laura Mulvey called for a rejection of the patriarchal practices inherent in mainstream cinema and the creation of new ways of making films which did not objectify women. funded by the Arts Council. Her earliest short films have much in common with the structuralist movement in avantgarde cinema. 1982). 1984). extends these interests into a wider .166 sally potter Bibliography: Roman Polanski. Her first feature. with their use of multi-screen projection sometimes combined with music and performance. uses the opera La Bohe`me as a means to explore these issues and adopts an experimental style using direct quotes from feminist writing as well as references to films like HITCHCOCK’s Psycho (1960). The Gold Diggers (1983). often with companies using performance as a means of exploring sexual politics. Roman Polanski: His Life and Films (London: Hamish Hamilton. She studied briefly at St Martin’s School of Art and then trained with the London School of Contemporary Dance. Sally POTTER Sally Potter was born in London on 19 September 1949. Barbara Leaming. Roman (New York: Morrow. Her move into film-making coincided with the development of academic interest in feminist film theory. During the 1970s she worked as a dancer and choreography. Her interest in film-making led to her joining the London Filmmakers’ Cooperative and she made a number of short films which explored her interest in dance. Her landmark short film.
The Tango Lesson (1997) is Potter’s most overtly personal film. with the director writing the music and appearing in front of the camera as a film-maker trying to make a Hollywood movie but increasingly distracted by her interest in the tango. Yes (2004). It’s not entirely successful in its attempt to mix intellectual concerns and entertainment values. particularly in dealing with questions of identity and prejudice. it adopts a much more playful. 2002). was paid at the same rate. In a more affirmative manner than her earlier films. Yes (2004). ‘Sally Potter: The Making of a British Woman Filmmaker’. British Feature Films: The Gold Diggers (1983). Potter has established herself at the forefront of contemporary British art cinema. which took eight years to bring to the screen but which was rewarded with international art house success. producing a film which is both challenging. With her work to date. but it was very poorly received by mainstream critics. Bibliography: Anne Cieko. The film was made with an allfemale crew and everyone involved. Ricci is a Russian Jew fleeing across a war-ravaged Europe who falls in love with Depp’s exotic gypsy. Orlando suggests the possibilities and varieties which gender might take. . including Julie Christie. Swinton’s character reappears in a number of different time periods through British history.sally potter 167 consideration of the commodification of women within capitalism. accessible tone while still questioning how gender and sexuality are defined by society. and passionately affecting. she managed to pull off this same feat with considerable aplomb.). With her most recent film. Adapted from Virginia Woolf’s novel and starring Tilda Swinton. where the role of women as possessions is equated with the ownership of marketable materials such as gold. The Tango Lesson (1997). Orlando (1992). The Man Who Cried (2000). Potter began to move more towards the mainstream in the late 1980s with the short film The London Story (1986) and then the feature length Orlando (1992). With The Man Who Cried (2000) she moved even more firmly into the mainstream using the Hollywood stars Christina Ricci and Johnny Depp in a glossy romantic melodrama. Fifty Contemporary Filmmakers (London: Routledge. These films are central to the emergence of a radical feminist cinema which occurred in Britain during this period. The film indulges Potter’s love of dance in beautifully shot sequences with the Argentinean dancer Pablo Vero ´ n and skilfully subverts the ‘male gaze’ as defined by Mulvey. in Yvonne Tasker (ed. starting as a man and then changing into a woman.
After attending Dulwich College and a stint working in a bank. Powell was born on 30 September 1905 in Bekesbourne. but. unlike HITCHCOCK. Ingram had been filming in the south of France where Powell’s father ran a hotel. Only Alfred HITCHCOCK has attracted a similar level of regard. Powell entered the industry and quickly worked his way up to director. poetic sensibility. During the 1930s he made more than twenty quota quickies. On his return to Britain. his father enabled Powell to meet the American director Rex Ingram whom he went to work for as an assistant. Kent. and occasionally the subject of controversy. produced films which elevate cinema to art and which reflect on the nature of British culture and identity.168 michael powell Michael POWELL (and Emeric PRESSBURGER) Although viewed with suspicion by film reviewers of the 1940s and 1950s. a visionary film-maker who. Michael Powell’s reputation now stands as high as any director to have emerged from British cinema. . whether working with his long-time collaborator Emeric Pressburger or alone. the low-budget fillers designed to meet government-set production levels. Powell’s work is almost entirely associated with a British context. He is British cinema’s foremost romantic. His shift into ‘A’ grade productions came with The Edge of the World (1937). a portrait of life on the remote Scottish island of Foula which owes a good deal to the documentarist Robert Flaherty in its location shooting but which also brings to its subject a personal.
With its sumptuous colour and idealised depiction of women (with three roles played by Deborah Kerr). the eternally honorable Clive Wynne-Candy (Roger Livesey). moving epiphany in Canterbury Cathedral. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943). Powell made two stylish espionage thrillers featuring the charismatic German actor Conrad Veidt: The Spy in Black (1939) and Contraband (1940). it has established many of Powell and Pressburger’s typical traits. He came to Britain in 1935 and worked for another Hungarian e ´ migre ´ Alexander KORDA. with Eric Portman as Colpeper. 49th Parallel is an episodic. mystical contemplation of the English landscape and traditions. Hungary. Their first project as the Archers. with its memorable logo of arrows striking a target. taking in his friendship with a very sympathetic German. He had worked in Germany as a journalist and translator before becoming a scriptwriter in the 1930s. It was on these films that Powell first worked with the scriptwriter Emeric Pressburger. Over a dozen years they were to make thirteen films together in which they share a joint credit as writing. the local magistrate who pours glue into the hair of young girls to deter them from going out with servicemen who should be concentrating on saving his beloved nation. Powell and Pressburger formalised their working relationship by establishing their own production company.michael powell 169 Turning to more mainstream projects. . as well as embracing Celtic romanticism in place of the Englishness of A Canterbury Tale. who introduced him to Powell. It is a gloriously romantic celebration of the life of a very British war hero. although it was Powell who remained the director and Pressburger who largely fashioned the scripts. I Know Where I’m Going (1945) also has mystical overtones. as Wendy Hiller’s thoroughly modern young woman is distracted from marrying sensibly when she encounters the landscape of Scotland and the charms of Roger Livesey. an extraordinary. Meanwhile. melodramatic affair. A Canterbury Tale (1944) is another highly idiosyncratic ‘propaganda’ piece. but the more sober One of Our Aircraft Is Missing (1942) is clearly influenced by the dominant style of documentary realism. the first of many films they made together which reflect on the War. but he returned to work with Pressburger for 49th Parallel (1941). The film becomes increasingly spiritual until its final. Pressburger was born on 5 December 1902 in Miskolc. Powell was one of several directors employed by KORDA on both the patriotic morale-booster The Lion Has Wings (1939) and the spectacular The Thief of Bagdad (1940). Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff (Anton Walbrook). The Archers. The film is full of visual invention and sly humour. Moving to the Rank Organisation in 1943. incurred the wrath of Churchill who tried to ban it. producing and directing.
Other than a bravura scene of alcoholic delirium. David Niven is the pilot accidentally allowed by heaven to survive the destruction of his aircraft. the film is unusually austere in its visual style. a film overflowing with cinematic trickery and delighting in the triumph of imagination over reality. particularly when Kathleen Byron’s demented Sister Ruth wears a flaming red dress and scarlet lipstick to stalk Deborah Kerr’s Sister Clodagh. in which image and sound are synchronised in a symphonic manner without recourse to conventional narrative or dialogue. the film takes a dryly humorous look at the changing relationship between Britain and America and offers a warm endorsement of the power of love to overcome even death. a richly colourful depiction of the world of ballet and Powell’s ultimate declaration of the importance of art over life. Selznick’s interference seems to have been at least partly responsible for its disjointed effect. it was a vindication of the ambition of The Archers. . who then falls in love with an American girl (Kim Hunter) while a heavenly emissary (Marius Goring) tries to persuade him to return ‘upstairs’ where he belongs. Their first film for him was The Small Back Room (1948). The consequences of suppressing emotion become the subject of Black Narcissus (1947) as a group of nuns succumb to the strange atmosphere of their isolated nunnery perched high in the Himalayas. but one which lacks Powell and Pressburger’s usual resonance. Moira Shearer is the inge ´ nue who comes under the mesmeric influence of Anton Walbrook’s impresario. . we have the nearest he came to realising this concept. With its central ballet sequence. The Elusive Pimpernel (1950) is a smoothly glossy production. from Offenbach’s operetta. The film benefits from the startling sets and superb colour cinematography of Jack Cardiff. Further attempts to explore these methods with Oh . Unfortunately Rank didn’t share the public’s enthusiasm and Powell and Pressburger subsequently moved back to KORDA. Its audacious combination of music. With The Red Shoes. larger-than-life characters and sinister undercurrents. but it is still an enjoyably full-blooded melodrama. The height of their popular success came with The Red Shoes (1948). By comparison. Lermentov. luminous colour and stylised design confused contemporary critics. Few British films have matched its charged atmosphere. Gone to Earth (1950) was made in collaboration with American producer David O. With heaven in stark monochrome and earth in glorious Technicolor.170 michael powell Perhaps the summation of this period is A Matter of Life and Death (1946). dance. but its experimentation still seems fresh and exciting. a tautly made story of a bomb disposal expert. . Powell had begun to develop his idea of the ‘composed film’. Selznick and starred his wife Jennifer Jones. With The Tales of Hoffman (1951).
co-directed with Brian Desmond Hurst and Adrian Brunel). Contraband (1940). is his late masterpiece. The Elusive Pimpernel (1950). 1964) were hampered by the difficulties of international co-production and never matched the unity of The Tales of Hoffman. I Know Where I’m Going (1945). One of Our Aircraft Is Missing (1942). The Red Shoes (1948). the sixty-minute The Boy Who Turned Yellow (1972). The Battle of the River Plate (1956) and Ill Met by Moonlight (1957) are old-fashioned war films. Luna de Miel (UK/Spain. Savaged by contemporary critics for its bad taste. Black Narcissus (1947). Emeric Pressburger died in 1988. Rosalinda!! (1955). British Feature Films:* The Edge of the World (1937). Gone to Earth (1950). in his love of landscape. The Tales of Hoffman (1951). Powell’s later solo work seemed to indicate a decline. The Small Back Room (1948). There is also much that is intrinsically British about Powell. Late in life. Peeping Tom (1960). shot for the Children’s Film Foundation. The Thief of Bagdad (1940. The dense layers of reference (Powell appears as the central character’s father. The Battle of the River . a medium capable of aesthetic beauty as well as dealing with profound ideas. as well as in his romanticism. A Matter of Life and Death (1946). so that he has become emblematic for a national cinema. he was able to enjoy the reassessment of his work which saw him hailed by film-makers like Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola.michael powell 171 Rosalinda!! (1955). however. If he was maligned in his prime. he had the last laugh as he became enshrined by film historians as perhaps the most important film-maker to have worked within British cinema. Oh . They belatedly made one more film together. while his son plays the hero as a child) and self-reflexivity reward repeated viewings. although the former includes Peter Finch’s depiction of yet another likeable German. . followed by Michael Powell on 19 February 1990. The Spy in Black (1939). 49th Parallel (1941). . A Canterbury Tale (1944). co-directed with Ludwig Berger and Tim Whelan). 1957) and Bluebeard’s Castle (UK/Ger. There is in Powell’s work a celebration of the potential of film as an artistic medium on a level with any of the other arts. with two Anglo-Australian films – They’re a Weird Mob (1966) from a script by Pressburger and Age of Consent (1969) – and the stiffly conservative The Queen’s Guard (1961) adding little to his reputation. it is now recognised as a complex. Powell and Pressburger’s final two films together were rather a disappointment. The Lion Has Wings (1939. disturbing meditation on the nature of cinema itself and its manipulation of the audience’s voyeuristic tendencies. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943). literature and tradition.
Peeping Tom (1960). 1978). Her second feature film. R Lynne RAMSAY Lynne Ramsay is one of the brightest talents to have appeared in recent British cinema. Bibliography: Ian Christie and Andrew Moor (eds). Powell. but like the work of her fellow Scot Bill DOUGLAS it transcends the limitations of naturalism to offer something more visually poetic. Set during the strike-ravaged 1970s. Her achievement was recognised with the Carl Foreman Award as most promising newcomer at the BAFTAs. Morvern Callar (2002). 1992). Ill Met by Moonlight (1957). Ratcatcher (1999). graduating in 1996. both of which won prizes at the Cannes Film Festival. her graduation film. it presents a wholly unsentimental picture of the life of a young boy growing up on a grim housing estate in Glasgow. adapted from Alan Warner’s successful novel. 2005).172 lynne ramsay Plate (1956). Her debut feature film. Michael Powell. again immerses us in the inner world of its central character. 1994). Ian Christie (ed. At the National Film and Television School she specialised in cinematography and directing. Pressburger and Others (London: BFI. The Queen’s Guard (1961). Bluebeard’s Castle (1964). Its political message remains implicit as it is as much concerned with conveying the subjective experience of young James as recording the external realities of his life.). Scotland on 5 December 1969 and studied photography at Napier College in Edinburgh. She was born in Glasgow. Ian Christie. clearly belongs in the tradition of British social realism. The Cinema of Michael Powell (London: BFI. * Powell also directed twenty-three quota quickies between 1931 and 1936. A Life in Movies (London: Heinemann. the narrative is only the bare bones of a film which is a sometimes abstract meditation on . The Boy Who Turned Yellow (1972). They’re a Weird Mob (1966). a supermarket worker who passes off her dead boyfriend’s unpublished novel as her own and heads off to Spain with her friend on the proceeds. and Gasman (1997). As with Ratcatcher. Arrows of Desire: The Films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (London: Faber & Faber. Luna de Miel (1959). Age of Consent (1969). Michael Powell. 1986). Million Dollar Movie (London: Heinemann. She began her career making short films including Small Deaths (1996).
His mother was the mistress of the married actor-manager Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree and Reed was one of six children she bore him. British Feature Films: Ratcatcher (1999). Reed worked steadily as a director throughout the 1930s making a variety of mainly routine studio films. with image and music (Morvern takes with her a compilation tape made for her by her boyfriend) fusing into a beautifully composed. his masterpiece. Her small output to date has already been recognised with a plethora of international awards and her further progress can only be awaited with considerable anticipation. class tensions. Reed was also a supreme stylist.(sir) carol reed 173 subjectivity. He eventually joined a theatre company formed by the thriller writer Edgar Wallace to stage some of his stories. Tree maintained his second family in solidly middle-class comfort. When Wallace became Chairman of British Lion in 1927. but then returned to Britain to take up a career as an actor. Most memorable among them is Bank Holiday (1938). haunting whole. With Wallace’s death in 1932 he jointed ATP at Ealing and gradually worked his way up the ranks. whose famous tilted shots seemed to match his often sideways view of a world of shifting values and moral uncertainty. the early screwball comedy Climbing High (1939) and A Girl Must Live (1939). which shows the growing influence of documentary realism in British cinema. his sympathetic depiction of female characters and a concern with innocence versus experience. (Sir) Carol REED Few would dispute that Carol Reed is one of the most important directors to have worked in British cinema. South London. in this case Margaret Lockwood. Morvern Callar (2002). Peter William Evans points towards such recurring themes as father–son relationships. Yet the qualities which distinguish his films remain difficult to categorise and perhaps this accounts for the lack of academic attention paid to his work. working as an actor and stage manager. Reed joined him there as his assistant. which demonstrates Reed’s sympathetic handling of female stars. After public school. he spent a brief period in America (at his mother’s insistence) working with his brother on a chicken farm. The Third Man (1949). He co-directed It Happened in Paris (1935) and then made his solo debut as director with Midshipman Easy (1936). was voted the greatest British film of all time in a BFI poll. In his study of the director. but the unusual relationship with his inevitably distant father seems to have had some impact on Reed. . Reed was born on 30 December 1906 in Putney. a proficiently handled seafaring adventure.
but still offers a disturbing examination of the dangers of innocence with Bobby Henrey as the small boy left virtually alone in a London embassy who almost implicates the embassy’s butler. the story of the rise of a miner’s son to become an MP. The much lighter Night Train to Munich (1940) is clearly indebted to HITCHCOCK’s thrillers of the 1930s. It was so popular that Reed was asked to expand it into a feature which became The Way Ahead (1944). It is moving nonetheless and its bleak ending is surprisingly downbeat for a propaganda piece. the film is full of scenes and characters which have become cliche ´ s of the war movie genre but which were fresh at the time. softens the author’s liberal political message and veers towards melodrama but is still a fine early example of socially aware British film-making. skewed camerawork and the unforgettable performance of Orson . By comparison. Greene wrote an original screenplay for The Third Man and provided Reed with material perfectly suited to his talents. in a crime he didn’t commit. Reed cemented his growing reputation. It was rewarded with an Academy Award. particularly The Lady Vanishes (1938). but has considerable style on its own account. His adaptation of A. Moving from Rank to KORDA’s London Films. Following this Reed worked with the American director Garson Kanin on the documentary The True Glory (1945) which uses footage shot by allied cameramen to produce a lucid. an overpoweringly atmospheric account of the last days of a wounded IRA gunman played with melancholy charisma by James Mason. Its cynical story of postwar disillusionment marries together a number of wonderful elements. The Fallen Idol (1948) was adapted from Greene’s short story ‘The Basement Room’ and reverses its plot structure. Reed’s great period began with Odd Man Out (1947). loyal fighting unit. Reed adopts a highly stylised visual technique which perfectly suits the material and shifts the emphasis away from the politics of Ireland towards a story of love and salvation. both Kipps (1941) and the propagandist The Young Mr Pitt (1942) are relatively routine period dramas. powerful depiction of the final days of the war. from the haunting zither score of Anton Karas to Robert Krasker’s disorientating. J. Cronin’s The Stars Look Down (1939). whom he hero-worships. Filmed in a semi-documentary style.174 (sir) carol reed As the 1940s began. Reed was teamed with the novelist Graham Greene for his next two films. In 1942 Reed made a short educational piece for the War Office Film Unit called The New Lot (1942) which showed how a group of raw recruits could be moulded into a tough. The relationship appears to have been sympathetic and Reed certainly got closer than any other director to capturing the mood of ‘Greeneland’.
Reed brings real zest to Lionel Bart’s musical and the casting is. Kipps (1941). however. Odd Man Out (1947). He was fired from Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) after clashing with its star. he won his place among the elite of British directors. Trapeze (1956). Reed was knighted in 1952. Laburnum Grove (1936). to be a final flourish. There was. His two big budget international productions. co-directed with Robert Wyler). soured romanticism. It’s hard to resist Oliver! (1968). Marlon Brando. with their dark. He worked with Greene again on Our Man in Havana (1960).(sir) carol reed 175 Welles as the seductive. ponderous epics. A Girl Must Live (1939). while A Kid for Two Farthings (1955) is a slightly fantastical portrait of childhood imagination set in a romanticised East End. are a perfect counterpoint to the more optimistic vision of his contemporaries POWELL and LEAN. a neatly acerbic adaptation of Greene’s novel with well judged performances from Noe ¨ l Coward and Alec Guinness. are both dull. Harry Lime. If Reed’s subsequent work never quite captured the same heights as this trio of films. The Young Mr Pitt (1942). the first film director to receive such an honour. Night Train to Munich (1940). and revisited the themes of The Third Man with the Cold War thriller The Man Between (1953). He died on 25 April 1976. Penny Paradise (1938). Climbing High (1938). Who’s Your Lady Friend? (1937). a circus story with Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster. including Reed’s nephew Oliver Reed. These films. It is easy to dismiss Reed as the ultimate professional. Talk of the Devil (1936). The Fallen Idol (1948). Outcast of the Islands (1951). with Charlton Heston’s Michelangelo giving himself a bad neck painting the Sistine Chapel. co-directed with Garson Kanin). as usual. There may have been a decline in his later career. The Man Between (1953). For all its bowdlerising of Dickens. British Feature Films: It Happened in Paris (1935. The Way Ahead (1944). impeccable. there is still plenty of interest. An Outcast of the Islands (1952) is an ambitious attempt to film Joseph Conrad’s novel which is only partially successful. but morally bankrupt. Reed’s use of canted shots and chiaroscuro perfectly convey the atmosphere of moral decay central to the narrative. Midshipman Easy (1935). This is to seriously underestimate his achievements as his films are rarely without some merit. The Stars Look Down (1939). The Girl in the News (1940). honing their scripts with the dedication of a painstaking craftsman. The True Glory (1945. and The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965). reliant upon his writers. The film was a huge box-office hit and won Carol Reed the Oscar as Best Director. particularly with that magnificent trilogy of 1940s films. Bank Holiday (1938). but at his peak. A Kid . The Third Man (1949).
but The Sorcerers (1967). European co-productions provided him with the chance to progress his career and in Italy he was first assistant director on Castle of the Living Dead (1964) and then made his directorial debut with Revenge of the Blood Beast (1965). 1978). 2005). Oliver! (1968). Carol Reed (London: BFI. Our Man in Havana (1959). made back in Britain for the idiosyncratic exploitation company Tigon. . The Key (1958). He made his way up through a variety of typical supporting jobs. Carol Reed (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press. The Running Man (1963). Boris Karloff and Catherine Lacey are the elderly couple who relive their youth vicariously by controlling the mind of the young Ian Ogilvy. 1990). Nicholas Wapshott. Reeves proves adept at both delivering an effective horror film and offering an examination of the voyeuristic nature of the medium. His death at the age of just twenty-five robbed British cinema. The Man Between: A Biography of Carol Reed (London: Chatto & Windus. including working for the American director Don Siegel and on two American-backed European films. with nods towards Michael POWELL’s Peeping Tom (1960). The film relies for its impact on the juxtaposition of lyrical depictions of the English countryside with the realistically shot barbarity of its violent sequences. Follow Me! (1971). Brenda Davies (ed. Reeves’ reputation rests squarely on his third feature film. Within the restricted budget. The Long Ships (1963) and Genghis Khan (1965). is much more substantial. Born in London in 1944. and particularly the horror genre. He was signed to direct The Oblong Box for American International Pictures with Vincent Price and Christopher Lee starring. Bibliography: Peter William Evans. These were strictly low-budget affairs. but during pre-production on 11 February 1969 he died from an overdose of alcohol and barbiturates. a lawyer who finds it profitable to exploit the hysteria over witchcraft which occurred during the English Civil War. It generates a palpable sense of evil and tension rare in British horror films more typified by the romanticism of Hammer’s output. Witchfinder General (1968). a director of enormous potential whose career was cut tragically short. he entered the industry in the early 1960s after attending public school. Michael REEVES Michael Reeves is a rare cult figure in British cinema.176 michael reeves for Two Farthings (1954). of a genuinely gifted talent.). Vincent Price is chillingly ruthless as Matthew Hopkins.
Adapted by Alan Sillitoe from his novel and produced by his New Wave colleague Tony RICHARDSON for Woodfall. This agenda shaped Reisz’s initial entry into film-making with the documentaries Moma Don’t Allow (1955). 2003). As a twelve-year-old he fled his homeland as war loomed and came to Britain to study at a Quaker school. a key film of the New Wave. which was commissioned by the British Film Academy. Arthur Seaton (Albert Finney). Karel Reisz was born in Ostrava. With its vivid location shooting by Freddie FRANCIS and Finney’s bravura performance. The Technique of Film Editing (1953).karel reisz 177 British Feature Films: Revenge of the Blood Beast (1965). The family he left behind were all to become victims of the Nazi Holocaust. it presents an unpatronising picture of the life of a factory worker. He then worked as Programme Manager at the National Film Theatre where. Czechoslovakia on 21 July 1926. sympathetic account of the youngsters who congregate around a youth club in a working-class area of London. co-founded by Oxford student Lindsay ANDERSON. including work made by himself. who lives for his weekends of boozing and womanising. Witchfinder General (1968). With them he shared a desire to regenerate a moribund national film industry by making films which were both socially relevant and artistically challenging. Reisz was to co-edit the final edition with ANDERSON in 1952. Michael Reeves (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press. he subsequently organised the Free Cinema programmes which provided a showcase for short films made by young British and continental directors. and We Are the Lambeth Boys (1959). . He also wrote a landmark book on the aesthetics of editing. His interest in cinema first found its outlet in articles for the film magazine Sequence. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960). Its centrepiece is a visit by the club to a public school for a cricket match which captures a barely suppressed sense of class antagonism. co-directed with Tony RICHARDSON and set in a jazz club. Karel REISZ One of the central figures in the British New Wave. Working-class life was to provide him with the subject for his feature debut. The Sorcerers (1967). with ANDERSON. Bibliography: Benjamin Halligan. as well as writing articles and reviews for journals such as Sight and Sound. He served in the Czech squadron of the RAF during the war and then studied chemistry at Cambridge before becoming a school teacher for two years. ANDERSON and Tony RICHARDSON. a fresh. audiences and critics responded warmly to the depiction of its young hero’s anti-authoritarian anger.
He went on to produce Lindsay ANDERSON’s debut feature film. one of the archetypal films of Swinging London. but the political thriller Everybody Wins (1990). Sweet Dreams (1985) is a highly effective study of the country singer Patsy Cline. was poorly received. it abandons the straightforward chills of the earlier version for an attempt at psychological depth which rather misfired. surreal dream sequences.178 karel reisz It was a film which seemed to mirror the undercurrent of radical change beginning to sweep Britain and garnered a BAFTA as Best British Film. . This Sporting Life (1963). Adapted from a television play by David Mercer and clearly influenced by the work of R. despairing meditation on the condition of America in the wake of the war in Vietnam. with some considerable success. Isadora (1968). Reisz made one further British film in the 1960s. to draw parallels between the radicalism of Duncan and the spirit of freedom spreading across Britain during the 1960s. a relatively straightforward biopic of the dancer Isadora Duncan co-scripted by Melvyn Bragg and starring Vanessa Redgrave. with its romantic plot mirrored by a modern-day relationship between the two actors playing the characters in the period film. jazzy score) don’t entirely obscure its serious points about the way that society deals with its malcontents and dissenters. goonish humour. An adaptation of Emlyn Williams’s play which had previously been filmed in Hollywood in 1937. D. It looks beautiful. With British cinema entering a period of serious economic decline. its 1960s trappings (white-on-white set designs. Reisz moved even further away from the grim realities of the ‘kitchen sink’ films with Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966). scripted by Arthur Miller. The film attempts. Reisz returned to Britain to make an adaptation of John Fowles’ cerebral pastiche Victorian novel The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981). The film benefits from a beautifully observed performance by David Warner. perhaps a little too heavy-handedly. Laing. an intense psychological study in self-destruction rather vaguely adapted from Dostoevsky and featuring a powerful central performance by James Caan. played with conviction by Jessica Lange. His last two films were again made in the States. Following its failure Reisz worked mainly in the theatre. Reisz made a living from television commercials and finally decamped to America where he made The Gambler (1974). but is chillingly cold and ascetic. Night Must Fall (1964) seemed an odd choice for his next film. Dog Soldiers (1978) is an even gloomier. which effectively marked the end of the New Wave. Reisz and his scriptwriter Harold Pinter manage the novel’s complex structure by depicting its Victorian narrative as a film-within-a-film.
Tony RICHARDSON Along with Lindsay ANDERSON and Karel REISZ.tony richardson 179 Reisz always claimed that he had no specific interest in realism as such. in establishing the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre in London. Karel Reisz. It is also confirms that there was a good deal more to Reisz than simply being a chronicler of working-class life. ushering in a revolution in style and subject matter. this might be seen as less than surprising. it was simply a convenient means with which to challenge the orthodoxies of 1950s British film production. Richardson continued to direct for the ESC until 1964 when Lindsay ANDERSON became their principal director. Isadora (1968). Karel Reisz (Boston: Twayne. Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966). With Reisz he co-directed Moma Don’t Allow (1955). Instead his real concern seems to have been with social outcasts. Tony Richardson was a central figure in the British New Wave of the late 1950s and early 1960s which swept the cobwebs from a too cosy national film culture. He became friends with REISZ and ANDERSON who wrote and edited the film magazine Sequence. 1980). along with George Devine. Among Richardson’s other theatre work was the . Yorkshire where his father owned a chemist’s shop. introducing a youthful vigour and realism. an attempt to capture the vibrancy of Britain’s rejuvenated jazz scene. Oxford he seems to have been more interested in amateur dramatics than his studies. On graduation. The Technique of Film Editing (London: Focal Press. Night Must Fall (1964). those who find themselves temperamentally outside of the mainstream and frequently suffer persecution as a result. Richardson would contribute idiosyncratic pieces to this and Sight and Sound. He was born Cecil Antonio Richardson on 5 June 1928 in Shipley. 1953). Through them he also contributed to the seasons of short documentary films which they organised at the National Film Theatre under the heading of ‘Free Cinema’. he was one of the first entrants on the BBC’s new training scheme for directors. In 1956 he was instrumental. The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981). Considering his childhood experiences. He died on 25 November 2002 in London. Their agenda of providing a showcase for unknown young writers led to the staging of John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger which was to become a landmark in postwar British theatre. At Wadham College. Bibliography: Georg Gaston. British Feature Films: Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960).
adapted from Shelagh Delaney’s play. With the unknown Rita Tushingham playing Jo. The film was also remarkable for breaking a number of censorship taboos. He adopts an irreverent style. Richardson felt confined by the studio shooting which dominated his film versions of Look Back in Anger (1959) and The Entertainer (1960). based on Marguerite Duras’ novel. Richardson finally got his wish to shoot entirely on location. In retrospect. and retains much of the anger of Sillitoe’s writing. He had already worked in Hollywood with an unsuccessful version of William Faulkner’s Sanctuary (1961) and he now returned to make an adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s black comedy about the funeral parlours of California. this time from Tom Courtenay. British reviewers baulked at its sometimes jarring combination of documentary realism and cinematic flamboyance (with devices borrowed from the French Nouvelle Vague). Richardson elicits another fine performance.180 tony richardson first staging of Osborne’s The Entertainer with Laurence OLIVIER in the lead. With A Taste of Honey (1961). or The Sailor from Gibraltar (1967). His next film was a startling change of direction which clearly indicated the end of Richardson’s interest in social realism and the New Wave. The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962). Two indulgent films with Jeanne Moreau followed. Tom Jones (1963) was a bawdy. Richardson adopts a style which is more poetic than naturalistic. On his return to Britain he made the short film Red and Blue (1967) and then completed the ambitious The Charge of the . although the latter does preserve OLIVIER’s performance for posterity. The film has developed a cult reputation on the basis of some bizarre cameos. As a loyal member of the New Wave team he produced Karel REISZ’s feature debut. but the film is very hit and miss. The popularity of Tom Jones gave Richardson international status. energetic version of Henry Fielding’s eighteenth-century novel which proved an enormous critical and commercial success. both shot in France. The former is also hampered by theatricality. was less well received. but his next few films are uneven. particularly one from Liberace. winning Richardson the Oscar as Best Director. made much impact. adapted from the novella by Alan Sillitoe. Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960). but neither Mademoiselle (1966). He founded the production company Woodfall with Osborne and the Canadian producer Harry Saltzman with the intention of filming Osborne’s plays. The Loved One (1965). adapted from Jean Genet. throwing every kind of cinematic trick available at the audience and ushering in the mood of Swinging London. bringing a lyrical quality to his working-class subject. including featuring a sexual relationship between a white girl and a black man and having an obviously gay character in a sympathetic role.
extensive use of close-ups and inventive handling of the spaces in the Roundhouse Theatre. an individualist whose films are often about outsiders at odds with their own society. With a heavily cut text. raising the ire of British critics who believe these approaches should not be mixed. are also actors. With Charles Wood’s deliberately archaic dialogue. his Australian epic Ned Kelly (1970). John Gielgud and Trevor Howard. Richardson’s final British films confirmed a downward spiral. all of which are relatively minor. brilliantly realised cartoon interludes by Richard Williams and a series of fine comic turns by Harry Andrews. He is a film-maker desperately in need of re-evaluation. He completed three further feature films. made in 1991 but not released until 1994 (after Richardson’s death from AIDS on 14 November 1991). with the routine Dick Francis racetrack thriller Dead Cert (1974) and a rather desperate attempt to revisit Henry Fielding with the tired romp Joseph Andrews (1977). but which offer pleasures. A Delicate Balance (1973) and Laughter in the Dark (1969) are relatively straightforward adaptations of Edward Albee and Vladimir Nabokov respectively. This seems unfair. Blue Sky. He was married to the actress Vanessa Redgrave and his daughters. Richardson reverses the usual heroic version of events handed down to us by Tennyson and Hollywood and instead builds a bleak satirical attack on the idiocies of the British military elite and the anachronisms of the Victorian class system. Richardson produces an intense. although Richardson’s work is patchy. Joely and Natasha. he was a director of real vision. Richardson creates the ultimate anti-heritage film. The Border (1982) is an effective depiction of Mexican illegal migration into America with a restrained Jack Nicholson and The Hotel New Hampshire (1984) is an honourable attempt to film John Irving’s quirky novel. was a critical and box office failure. belatedly won an Oscar for its star Jessica Lange.tony richardson 181 Light Brigade (1968). Unfortunately. claustrophobic adaptation which draws a powerful performance from Nicol Williamson. London. . The film had a mixed response and Richardson found himself working on more modest projects. Richardson resurfaced in America in the 1980s where he made a living directing mini-series for television. Richardson aroused criticism in some quarters with his intermingling of realism and modernism. with literary adaptations predominating as they did throughout his career. but the film of his own stage production of Hamlet (1969) is a greater success. its low budget forcing Richardson into a minimalist style which suits the material surprisingly well. with Mick Jagger out of his depth as the outlaw hero.
workingclass British gangster film and forces it through a fashionable stylistic rebranding. In this remake of Lina Wertmu ¨ ller’s 1974 allegorical film. Long Distance Runner: A Memoir (London: Faber & Faber. The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968). Its popularity spawned a revival in the genre leading to a plethora of violent crime movies. This is gangster pastiche. Ned Kelly (1970). Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998). which probably didn’t help the reception for Swept Away (2002). It has the same postmodern knowingness in its jokey plundering of genre cliche ´ s and the same testosterone-driven energy. 1993). but it certainly touched a nerve with young audiences in a manner which few recent British films have achieved. A Delicate Balance (1973).182 guy ritchie British Feature Films: Look Back in Anger (1959). The Entertainer (1960). Laughter in the Dark (1969). he entered the film industry as a runner in 1993 and graduated to directing commercials and music videos. and a riot of unreconstructed male stereotyping typified by the casting of the bullet-headed exfootballer Vinnie Jones. The Cinema of Tony Richardson: Essays and Interviews (New York: State University of New York Press. 1999). Dead Cert (1974). but although still a commercial success the strain of repetition was already beginning to show. Welsh and John C. Tibbetts (eds). Bibliography: James M. exaggerating the ludicrous street patois of its likeable villains. Ritchie removes the politics and turns the story into a thoroughly unconvincing and selfindulgent vehicle for his wife. one or two rather good. Born in Hatfield. Tom Jones (1963). By this time the media was as interested in his marriage to Madonna as in his films. Joseph Andrews (1977). Hertfordshire on 10 September 1968. Hamlet (1969). the majority quite awful. The Sailor From Gibraltar (1967). A Taste of Honey (1961). speeding up the editing and utilising every visual sleight of hand he had learned in his apprenticeship on pop promos and commercials. He made the short film The Hard Case (1995) and then hit the box-office jackpot with his feature debut Lock. He revisited the same territory with Snatch (2000). Guy RITCHIE Few contemporary British directors have made as much public impact or grabbed as many headlines as Guy Ritchie. this time importing American star Brad Pitt to bolster the formula. It was rapidly withdrawn following its . Mademoiselle (1966). Tony Richardson. The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962). Press revelations of his decidedly establishment background also tended to undermine Ritchie’s claims for working-class authenticity. Ritchie takes the template of the traditional.
taking it into the age of MTV. recycling the conventions of old gangster movies with a thin veneer of flashy technique. Among the witty wordplay and perversely joyful squalor of its two reprobate heroes is a finally moving story of friendship and loss which also acts as a lament for the death of 1960s idealism. before eventually switching to writing in the late 1970s. . With his most recent film. he brought life back into a genre that was flagging. Slightly more low key and restrained than his earlier work. ‘Travels in Ladland: The British Gangster Film Cycle. Swept Away (2002). it didn’t fare as well commercially but did a good deal to restore a critical reputation which had taken a hammering after Swept Away. With only a handful of credits the jury may be out. Grant. a frequently hilarious tale of two out of work actors on a chaotic weekend’s holiday in the country. Snatch (2000). He continued as a struggling actor for the best part of ten years. 2001).bruce robinson 183 American release and only emerged in Britain on straight-to-video some time later. Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998). but he is still a director whose films attract exceptional levels of media interest. He then wrote and directed Withnail and I (1987). but his next film. Revolver (2005). He trained as an actor with the Central School of Speech and Drama in London and made his film debut while in his graduation year as Benvolio in Franco Zeffirelli’s film of Romeo and Juliet (1968). The British Cinema Book (London: BFI. he returned to more familiar ground with another fast-moving crime film. Revolver (2005). which won him a BAFTA and an Oscar nomination. Bibliography: Steve Chibnall. How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989). along with the abrupt shifts into manic fantasy. in Robert Murphy (ed. None of Robinson’s subsequent work has achieved the kind of audience response which Withnail and I attracted. His ´ ’s The Killing Fields first produced screenplay was for Roland JOFFE (1984). For fans. The hectoring tone of the film. a drama set during the violence of the Khmer Rouge era in Cambodia.). becoming the cult film of choice for a generation of students. Grant again taking the lead role. British Feature Films: Lock. largely succeeds as an acid satire of 1980s materialism with Richard E. Bruce ROBINSON Bruce Robinson was born in North London on 2 May 1946 but spent most of his childhood in Kent. It made stars of Paul McGann and Richard E. For his critics – and he certainly has them – Ritchie is an ersatz film-maker. 1998–2001’.
Subsequently he returned to screenwriting. British Feature Films: Withnail and I (1987). Roeg was born on 15 August 1928 in London. Bibliography: Alastair Owen (ed. During the 1960s he became regarded as one of the finest cinematographers available. Smoking in Bed: Conversations with Bruce Robinson (London: Bloomsbury. it was a critical and commercial failure. his films didn’t look like the work of any one else and their dark themes of destructive sexuality and confused identity made them sharply provocative. Following National Service. 2000). melancholy splendour of Withnail and I lingers in the memory. including the script for Neil JORDAN’s American-made In Dreams (1999). but seems to have become increasingly disillusioned with the film business.184 nicolas roeg occasionally proved alienating.). Nicolas Roeg seemed to represent one of the few real chinks of light. He produced another script for Joffe ´ with Shadow Makers (1989). Nicolas ROEG Amid the general gloom of 1970s British cinema. Fahrenheit 451 (1966) for Truffaut and John SCHLESINGER’s Far From the Madding Crowd (1967). He photographed The Masque of the Red Death (1964) for exploitation master Roger Corman. The second follows Chas (James Fox) as he becomes immersed in the world of jaded rock star Turner (Mick Jagger). but the anarchic. It was his technical prowess that led to his involvement with Performance (1970) when he was brought in to provide assistance to first-time director Donald Cammell. Roeg finished as the film’s cinematographer and co-director. It is a film of distinct halves. noted for his expressive use of colour. More recently he has had considerable success as a novelist. His apparent withdrawal from directing has to be regretted. How to Get Ahead in Advertising (1989). before making Jennifer 8 (1992) in the United States. A gifted cinematographer. With their jagged cutting and disconcerting time shifts. who had also written the film. A surprisingly conventional thriller. he entered the industry in the late 1940s in the traditional manner as a general runabout. the first a violent gangster story which draws parallels between crime and big business. for which he was BAFTA nominated. During the 1950s he worked his way up from clapperboy to camera operator to director of photography and his credits included second unit work on David LEAN’s Lawrence of Arabia (1962) as well as the occasional scriptwriting jobs. he moved to directing and quickly established a reputation as a distinctively personal film-maker. Under the .
his sense of identity collapses and his latent homosexuality and femininity emerge. In The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) the other-worldly David Bowie is appropriately cast as an alien who arrives on earth seeking water for his drought stricken planet but finds himself corrupted by the greedy materialism of human beings. where two English children find themselves stranded in the Australian outback and are befriended by an aboriginal boy. it finally appeared and became an instant cult success. but for most of its length Roeg is more concerned with themes of sex and death. . The film’s classic sci-fi themes are rather buried under the mannerisms of Roeg’s directing style and. The high quality of Roeg’s work continued with the much acclaimed Don’t Look Now (1973). Sex and death are again at the heart of Bad Timing (1980).nicolas roeg 185 influence of sex and drugs. starring Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland as a couple who go to Venice to recover from the death of their young daughter. The film resolves itself into a slightly preposterous supernatural chiller. Its complex themes are mirrored by an elaborate cinematic style with the use of stylised mise en sce`ne and fractured editing. Nonetheless. this time by Anthony Richmond. but the film’s conclusion remains shocking and Roeg’s cinematography is stunning. Identity is also at the centre of Roeg’s first solo directorial effort. Senator Joseph McCarthy and Albert Einstein. Theresa Russell. the film is hauntingly enigmatic. it won him an award at the Cannes Film Festival. he found himself accused of pretentiousness. Although guaranteed to provoke accusations of pretentiousness from Roeg’s critics. starring opposite Roeg’s future wife. Insignificance (1985) portrays an imagined meeting between Marilyn Monroe. Joe DiMaggio. Roeg’s characteristic manipulation of time through montage editing is seen at its height in the scene where the couple’s love-making is intercut with shots of them dressing to go out. it is a mesmerising analysis of false materialistic values with Gene Hackman as a driven gold prospector. Walkabout (1970). The intricacies of Eureka (1983) proved too much for distributors who were reluctant to release it. a coldly executed examination of a destructive sexual relationship featuring yet another music star. The underlying pessimism of much of Roeg’s work is particularly apparent here. The film contrasts the natural spirituality of the aboriginal way of life with the shallowness of contemporary society in a slightly simplistic manner. Stagey and relentlessly talkative. not for the last time. Shelved by Warner Brothers. Art Garfunkel. Again beautifully photographed. Roeg’s usual visual pyrotechnics are largely missing and the fascination of the metaphysical discussions don’t always overcome the contrivance of the basic set-up.
the strictly routine Samson and Delilah (1996) and the inanities of Full Body Massage (1995). Track 29 (1988). Since the 1990s. made in America and adapted from Brian Moore’s novel. from an original screenplay by Dennis Potter. 1992). 1991).186 nicolas roeg After contributing a section to the portmanteau opera film Aria (1987). is a supernatural thriller which works well for its first half and then fizzles out to an unbelievable ending. Roeg shifted more into the mainstream with Castaway (1987). Don’t Look Now (1973). As she discovers her affinity with the landscape. Eureka (1983). Reed descends into a mire of sexual frustration which. Adapted from Roald Dahl’s children’s story. . which was among the most startlingly innovative and daring to have been produced within British cinema. it follows Oliver Reed and Amanda Donohoe as their attempt to live out an idyll on a beautiful desert island falls foul of natural hazards and the tensions inherent in their relationship. Walkabout (1970). with broad humour cut through by genuinely sinister elements. Following it. elicits some sympathy. Cold Heaven (1991). The Films of Nicolas Roeg (London: Letts. a disturbingly ambiguous meditation on the shifting nature of identity and the difficulties of fully knowing another person. in a surprisingly affecting performance. Castaway (1986). Bibliography: John Izod. Track 29 (1988). Neil Sinyard. It is one of Roeg’s most impressive later films. Other than the bizarre. including an uninspired version of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1994). The Films of Nicolas Roeg (Basingstoke: Macmillan. Roeg made his most mainstream film to date with The Witches (1990). co-directed with Donald Cammell). erotic short film Hotel Paradise (1995). while Two Deaths (1995) sets another story of sexual obsession rather jarringly against the backdrop of the bloody Ceaus¸ escu regime in Romania. The film has a lightness of touch which is not usually associated with Roeg. most of his subsequent work has been for American television or straight-to-video release. The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976). Bad Timing (1980). British Feature Films: Performance (1970. the film successfully captures the author’s distinctive combination of light and dark. Insignificance (1985). Two Deaths (1995). It is probably best to overlook this fall from grace and remember his outstanding work from the 1970s and 1980s. The Witches (1990). Based on a true story. took Roeg firmly back into the arena of art cinema. Roeg’s work has gone into quite a steep decline.
Ken Russell has infuriated critics and provoked controversy for most of his film-making career. even now in his eighties.ken russell 187 Ken RUSSELL The perpetual ‘enfant terrible’ of British cinema. He is also one of the most original talents in British cinema. . a genuinely maverick director whose passion and flamboyance have brought vivid colour to a national film culture frequently accused of playing it safe.
for whom he worked extensively throughout the 1960s. but with the advantage of hindsight the film has emerged as Russell’s masterpiece. A lapsed Catholic convert. This controversy was nothing compared to the outrage which greeted The Devils (1971). The focus on Tchaikovsky’s repressed homosexuality and his unhappy marriage created another press furore. which depicted Delius at work. hosted by Huw Wheldon. An indication of things to come was provided by a finale borrowed outrageously from Eisenstein’s classic Alexander Nevsky (1938). followed by Billion Dollar Brain (1967). Some critics took umbrage at his rather casual way with the more intellectual aspects of Lawrence’s work but the strong sense of period and impressive performances by Alan Bates. including BAFTA and Oscar nominations for Russell. working as an actor and ballet dancer and then as a professional photographer. with lyrical imagery shot by Russell. he was hired by the BBC. a savage black comedy of sexual repression and violence with a powerful central performance by Oliver Reed and memorable set designs by Derek JARMAN. and Dance of the Seven Veils (1970) about Richard Strauss. Lawrence’s novel. His first feature film was the rather tame seaside comedy French Dressing (1963). He felt increasingly confined by the strictures imposed by Monitor and its successor Omnibus (e. The film’s naked male wrestling scene was just the first of many taboo-breaking sequences which would earn Russell notoriety. On the strength of a number of amateur short films he had made. provided by Wheldon’s voice-over. H. His real breakthrough as a cinema director came with Women in Love (1969). adapted from D. The Music Lovers (1970). particularly the charming Amelia and the Angel (1957). the third in the ‘Harry Palmer’ spy series starring Michael Caine. keeping dramatised sequences and dialogue to a minimum) and began to kick against their regulations with more experimental work such as The Debussy Film (1965). These short films balanced factual information.188 ken russell Ken Russell was born on 3 July 1927 in Southampton. Oliver Reed and Glenda Jackson won a great deal of critical praise. His early years were spent drifting through a variety of occupations including spells in the Merchant Navy and in the RAF during the Second World War. In the 1970s Russell produced a series of film biopics of composers and artists beginning with another controversial film. The censors wielded their scissors. The film shows an . He established himself on the arts documentary series Monitor.g. He attracted considerable attention for his studies of classical composers including the masterly Elgar (1962) and Song of Summer (1968). with its film-within-a-film structure. Russell filled this attack on religious intolerance with shocking images of masturbating nuns and priests being tortured.
. self-indulgence and intellectual shallowness of The Music Lovers is also evident in Lisztomania (1975). Far more enjoyable is the camp delirium of The Lair of the White Worm (1988) and Salome´’s Last Dance (1988). Frustrated with the lack of support he has received from British producers. a hallucinogenic and intermittently impressive variation on Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde over which he had major clashes with its producers. Among the many striking images are Elton John’s Pinball Wizard in his enormous Dr Marten boots and the iconic depiction of Daltrey as the messianic hero. Ken Russell’s ABC of British Music (1988) and Ken Russell’s Treasure Island (1995). Some of this work has been decidedly egocentric. e. The excess. More effective. frequently available only on the Internet. Back in Britain. and considerably more restrained. with Roger Daltrey in the lead. The former is a highly entertaining.g.ken russell 189 almost complete reversal of Russell’s previous view of the romantic artist. with his wildly idiosyncratic visual style matching the eccentricities of Pete Townsend’s writing. His characteristic excess is more apparent in Gothic (1986) which centres on the decadent lives of the poets Byron and Shelley as well as on the writing of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. This was by far Russell’s most productive period and it also included an overblown version of Sandy Wilson’s pastiche musical The Boy Friend (1971) and an adaptation of The Who’s rock opera Tommy (1975). allowing Russell to voice his opinions on a variety of subjects. have taken him back to his roots making short films on 8 mm in the 1950s. both Crimes of Passion (1984) and Whore (1991) are luridly sensationalist exercises. the majesty of the music being contrasted with the squalor of their personal lives. These ‘home movies’. he has taken to shooting films on digital video tape. he filmed two surprisingly conventional adaptations of Lawrence novels. Finding it increasingly difficult to attract funding. However. The baroque visuals can’t disguise the dubious nature of Russell’s premise that the book was inspired by the author’s loss of a baby. Russell has worked largely for television in recent years. which returned Russell to the style of his 1960s television work. about the sculptor GaudierBrzeska. He made three films in America beginning with Altered States (1980). the latter serialised for television. The Rainbow (1989) and Lady Chatterley (1993). were Mahler (1974) and Savage Messiah (1972). tongue-in-cheek gothic horror which wouldn’t have gone amiss as a production of Hammer Studios. and Valentino (1977) which has Rudolf Nureyev as the silent star. The latter shows Russell near his best. particularly for The South Bank Show. using his house and garden as sets and his family and friends as the cast. from one of veneration to a repudiation of their human frailties.
Women in Love (1969). for whom he directed Tesha (1928). Later the same year he made his directorial debut with The Arcadians and in 1928 established his own production company. British Feature Films: French Dressing (1963). NJ and London: ASU Presses 1999). He worked for Pathe ´ in London and then in 1920 he formed a film rental company with the young Michael Balcon. The Lair of the White Worm (1988). Savage Messiah (1972). At his worst. his films are undisciplined. Through much of his career Russell has railed at the philistines in the film industry who refuse to fund his projects and at the narrowminded critics who castigate his perceived vulgarity. The Rainbow (1989). A Very British Picture (London: Heinemann. Ken Russell (Cranbury. On his return home he entered the nascent British film industry. Tommy (1975). 1989). John Baxter. The Devils (1971). Lisztomania (1975). becoming the manager of a small cinema in Coventry. The Music Lovers (1970). Ken Russell – An Appalling Talent (London: Michael Joseph. Mahler (1974). Burlington. This led in turn to an interest in production and in 1923 he and Balcon co-produced Woman to Woman. He was invalided out of the army during the First World War after sustaining serious wounds. crude and poorly thought-through. although they are rarely dull. Bibliography: Gene D. Ken Russell. Billion Dollar Brain (1967). S Victor SAVILLE Victor Saville was born on 25 September 1897 in Birmingham as Victor Salberg. Salome´’s Last Dance (1988). In 1929 he went to America to add sound sequences to Kitty and while there directed a remake of Woman to Woman (1929) with sound. . 1973). He has remained unswervingly dedicated to a cinema of excess. Philips. Valentino (1977). The Fall of the House of Usher (2001). The Boy Friend (1971). The results have been uneven. but never less than memorable. of feeling and imagination communicated through images and music rather than dialogue or conventional narrative. Gothic (1986). At Gaumont-British he formed a successful partnership with the director Maurice Elvey for whom he produced five films including Hindle Wakes (1927).190 victor saville The Fall of the House of Usher (2001) received a limited release but was mauled by the British critics.
Remaining in America. In the late 1930s he was responsible for the production of two of the most popular films of the era. Saville had established himself as a highly competent. a playful crossdressing comedy with Matthews disguising herself as a boy. he made the popular spy movie The W Plan (1930) and then joined Gainsborough. he and screenwriter Ian Dalrymple established Victor Saville Productions. These include a lively version of J. produced to raise money for war charities. proficient director who could turn his hand to most genres. He achieved a similar success for the actress Madeleine Carroll with the espionage thriller I Was a Spy (1933). The Good Companions (1933). two vehicles for the comic Leslie Hanson – A Warm Corner (1930) and The Sport of Kings (1931) – and one for Jack Hulbert. including the anti-Nazi The Mortal Storm (1940) which was made before America entered the war and caused a considerable controversy.victor saville 191 Returning to Britain. often with a softlypeddled liberal message. but he wanted to return to producing. but Saville handles the narrative with considerable assurance to produce an engaging. Its political message may seem watered down now but was radical enough in the context of the period. In 1936. which recreates London’s Windmill Theatre in America in an utterly unconvincing manner. Their formula of sentiment and social conscience proved a box-office winner. the charming musical Evergreen (1934) and First a Girl (1935). it featured contributions from the European contingent in Hollywood. where Balcon was head of production. This resulted in another entertaining spy drama Dark Journey (1937). as well as historical dramas and romances. Most memorable are the five films he made with Jessie Matthews which turned her into a major star. and South Riding (1938). which is perhaps his finest achievement as a director. The Citadel (1938) and Goodbye Mr Chips (1939). with the backing of Alexander KORDA’s London Films. socially aware film. proving to be a reliable. he directed a section for the portmanteau film Forever and a Day (1943). Storm in a Teacup (1937). Priestley’s story of a travelling vaudeville troupe. He then returned fully to directing with the musical Tonight and Every Night (1945). frequently stylish director of middlebrow entertainments. Adapted from Winifred Holtby’s successful novel and set in the Yorkshire Dales. its multi-stranded plot is a little too near soap opera at times. During the war years he was in Hollywood where he produced eight films for MGM. a whimsical comedy with anti-fascist undercurrents. Love on Wheels (1932). He . both made in Britain for MGM and directed by Americans. Saville made sixteen films in five years working for Balcon. He made a sound version of Hindle Wakes (1931). B.
The Dictator (1935). Although much of his work was routinely commercial. Woman to Woman (1929). pointing to the class tensions and economic resentments of the depression era. was President of the Experimental Theatre Company and started to make his own amateur short films. Dark Journey (1937). The W Plan (1930). Hindle Wakes (1931). Michael and Mary (1931). his films of the 1930s remain a fascinating glimpse into the period. Twenty-Four Hours of a Woman’s Life (1952). although he continued to produce. John SCHLESINGER John Schlesinger was born on 16 February 1926 in London. Saville remained based in America. It’s Love Again (1936). Wareing.192 john schlesinger went on to make a further three films as a director at MGM in Hollywood. South Riding (1938). His study of English Literature as an undergraduate at Balliol College. It was to be his last film as a director. Evensong (1934). British Feature Films: The Arcadians (1927). Saville was an unusual figure in that he worked successfully as a director and a producer in both Britain and Hollywood. Kitty (1929). they nonetheless contain a solid sense of social purpose. Sunshine Susie (1931). He returned to Britain to live in the early 1960s and produced two more films there. I Was a Spy (1933). he worked as a professional actor in theatre and film but continued his interest in directing by making the short documentary Sunday in the Park (1956) which led to a job as an assistant director with the BBC. Bibliography: Cyril Rollins and Robert J. Calling Bulldog Drummond (1951). This unfortunately resulted in such routine fare as Calling Bulldog Drummond (1951) and the Cold War thriller Conspirator (1949). Storm in a Teacup (1937). Me and Marlborough (1935). 1972). Things reached a low point with his famously woeful American biblical epic The Silver Chalice (1954) starring a young Paul Newman. Friday the Thirteenth (1933). Oxford was cut short by war service with the Combined Services Entertainment Unit. A Warm Corner (1930). Victor Saville (London: BFI. Tesha (1928). he joined the Dramatic Society. The Good Companions (1933). none of them very memorable. First a Girl (1935). He died in London on 8 May 1979. He went on to . After graduation. Rich in sentimentality and the glamour of stardom. The Sport of Kings (1931). Love on Wheels (1932). Back at Oxford. The Iron Duke (1934). Conspirator (1949). The Faithful Heart (1932). Evergreen (1934). but made occasional forays home to direct.
sympathetic account of a young couple (Alan Bates and June Ritchie) struggling with their own naivety about adult relationships. bridging the naturalism of the New Wave with the fantasy of the Swinging Sixties. an adaptation of Waterhouse’s novel and their stage success. a sharply observed fly-on-the-wall portrait of life at Waterloo Station in London which won awards from BAFTA and at Venice. It is one of the quieter entries in this cycle. Schlesinger’s first feature film. but is distinguished by the portrayal of a more white-collar milieu than is usual with the ‘kitchen sink’ films and by its frank. The film won the Golden Bear at Berlin and marked the beginning of Schlesinger’s fruitful relationship with producer Joseph Janni which continued throughout the 1960s. For Edgar Anstey’s British Transport Films he made Terminus (1961).john schlesinger 193 direct more than twenty documentaries for the BBC working on the current affairs series Tonight and the arts programme Monitor. Tom Courtenay is engaging as Billy. The film marks a key moment in the development of British cinema. was sufficiently in the social realist mode to be considered part of the British New Wave. a young man trapped in a deadend job who compensates for the routine of his life with a very vivid imagination. . Julie Christie. adapted from Stan Barstow’s novel by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall. He worked with Waterhouse and Hall again on Billy Liar (1963). It also introduced audiences to the ultimate Sixties girl. A Kind of Loving (1962).
its two central characters are depicted with a warmth which is not extended to the portrait of the shallow. reviewers objected to what they saw as the imposition of too contemporary a tone onto period material. middle-class society in which they exist. Seen now. but often visually striking. A cruelly acerbic portrait of modern American values. a . it was a significant British film of its era and won many plaudits on release. is widely regarded as his finest work. Schlesinger was the darling of American critics and won the Academy Award as Best Director. and there is something uncomfortable about a film which frequently wallows in a moral depravity it appears to be condemning. a record of the 1972 Munich Olympics. Nonetheless. Typically for Schlesinger. Despite the faithfulness of Frederic Raphael’s script and sumptuous photography by Nicolas ROEG. Day of the Locust (1975). By Schlesinger’s standards. Back in Britain. Back again in Britain he made Yanks (1979). the depiction of the central character is surprisingly unforgiving. Midnight Cowboy (1969). Critics and audiences were less forgiving of the expensively produced Hardy adaptation Far from the Madding Crowd (1967) which again featured Christie and Alan Bates. the film is a chilly dissection of fashionable lifestyles and attitudes of the period. Marathon Man (1976) is a stylish.194 john schlesinger Christie appears again in Darling (1965) in which a shift into full Swinging London mode is apparent. Schlesinger’s international standing was confirmed by his selection to direct one of the eight segments of Visions of Eight (1973). he made the low-key Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971) which was groundbreaking in its depiction of a triangular love affair where both Peter Finch and Glenda Jackson share the same male lover. it benefits from the poignant performances of Jon Voight as a young hustler and Dustin Hoffman as his sleazy. disturbing climax. bordering on misogyny. the chemistry between Stamp and Christie seems more appealing. brutal thriller which obliquely links the Nazis to the persecution of liberals by Senator McCarthy. tragic friend. Its directorial flourishes attracted some criticism but it has gone on to attain a kind of cult status. By this time Schlesinger was regarded as among the brightest talents British cinema had to offer. including Oscars for Christie and Raphael. Those with a phobia for dentists should avoid it. His first American film. and another Swinging London icon Terence Stamp. Back in the States he made the uneven. Adapted from Nathanael West’s novel. so it is all too typically ironic that much of his subsequent career was to be spent in Hollywood. Scripted by Frederic Raphael and containing such would-be daring elements as an orgy sequence. It won him his second BAFTA as Best Director. Briefly. it presents a scathing attack on the values of classic-era Hollywood and builds to a surreal.
showing a real sensitivity towards society’s victims and outcasts. Schlesinger’s film career never fully recovered. Billy Liar (1963). It is a dryly observed portrait of the British spy Guy Burgess who went to live in communist Russia. 1981). His finest work combines cynicism towards the wider society with a real humanity for the individual. multi-stranded depiction of the impact of American troops stationed in Britain during the Second World War.john schlesinger 195 beguiling. a routine Cold War thriller. Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971). if slightly predictable prestige fare for British television such as A Question of Attribution (1992). The latter part of Schlesinger’s career shows a considerable decline in form. He was also a filmmaker who could use the medium with a genuine sense of style and flamboyance. Darling (1965). John Schlesinger (Boston: Twayne. He also worked successfully in the theatre and turned his hand to opera. modestly entertaining small-town comedy which cost a fortune to make and fared so badly at the box office that it almost bankrupted the American studio which backed it. California. with Madonna and Rupert Everett as the gay man who fathers her baby. the theatrical Madame Sousatzka (1988) with an over-the-top Shirley MacLaine and The Innocent (1993). His best later work was for British television where he made An Englishman Abroad (1983). Yanks (1979). British Feature Films: A Kind of Loving (1962). and Cold Comfort Farm (1995). which also betrayed an increasingly right-wing tone in Schlesinger’s work. which revisits similar territory to An Englishman Abroad. played with careworn cheerfulness by Alan Bates from a beautifully crafted Alan Bennett script. but at his height he was a director who regularly elicited memorable performances from his actors. He returned to feature production in America with the minor political drama The Falcon and the Snowman (1985). Honky Tonk Freeway (1981) is an overblown. Madame Sousatzka (1988). Schlesinger continued to produce polished. the crudely exploitative revenge drama Eye for an Eye (1996) and the superficially trendy romantic drama The Next Best Thing (2000). Bibliography: Gene D. but all the more likeable for that. He died on 25 July 2003 in Palm Springs. It is openly nostalgic. Phillips. Two further American films followed. . He was made a CBE in 1970 and received a BAFTA Fellowship in 1996. He made a couple of European co-productions. The Innocent (1993). And then the bubble abruptly burst. Far from the Madding Crowd (1967). A gradual slide into routine commercial projects is apparent with the tolerable horror film The Believers (1987) and the yuppies-in-peril suspense thriller Pacific Heights (1990).
The sophistication of these films put him light years ahead of most other British pioneers and gives him a place in the development of British cinema equivalent to that of Me ´ lie ` s in France.196 george albert smith George Albert SMITH George Albert Smith was born in London on 4 January 1864. although the two were to part company in . In 1900 Smith produced a number of films which indicate his significance to the development of film in Britain as a narrative form and an entertainment. with James Williamson and Esme Collings. cutting between wide shot and close-up. which makes imaginative use of closeups to draw the audience into the internal world of the film. Here he processed films as well as producing his own work. who ran the Warwick Trading Company. but his interest in optical illusions led him to developing elaborate lantern slide shows which involved switching between images to aid storytelling in a manner which foreshadows the methods of film editing. in 1896 he purchased an early moving image camera and the following year established a studio in the gardens of his home in Hove which he dubbed his ‘film factory’. actualities or fairy-tale adaptations and often featured his wife. With films such as The Kiss in the Tunnel and As Seen through the Telescope he developed techniques of editing which built on his earlier magic lantern shows. Laura Bayley. By the end of the century he had gone into partnership with another pioneer. a central contributor to the most important group of British film pioneers known as the ‘Brighton School’. In a simple sequence containing just a handful of shots he used such methods as dissolves. Smith particularly established a reputation for his trick films involving the manipulation of the new medium to produce startling visual effects. we share the young protagonist’s viewpoint as he looks at various objects through a magnifying glass. He had initially achieved public notoriety in the 1880s as a stage hypnotist. superimposition and point-of-view. For the remainder of his career he focused on developing colour techniques. who had already been a successful performer in comic revues. the American Charles Urban. His films of this period are largely simple slapstick comedies. This included the use of reverse motion in The House that Jack Built (1900) and dream sequences in Let Me Dream Again (1900). It became the basis for Urban’s creation of the Natural Color Kinematograph Company in 1910. Most famous of these is the charming Grandma’s Reading Glass (1900). After working as a portrait photographer. These enabled him to construct simple narratives in purely cinematic terms which the audience could follow. His two-colour Kinemacolor process was patented in 1906 and publicly launched in front of the Royal Society of Arts in 1908. He moved to Brighton where he subsequently became.
The film’s depiction of corruption in the world of boxing indicated Tennyson’s preference for films with a strong social conscience. Frank Gray. ‘George Albert Smith’s Visions and Transformations: The Films of 1898’. 1996–8). The Durbar at Delhi (1911). Visual Delights: Essays on the Popular and Projected Image in the 19th Century (Trowbridge: Flicks Books. which was to become his trademark. as with all of his films as a director. The Beginnings of the Cinema in England 1894–1901. Smith’s rival pioneer William Friese-Greene sued over the patent for Kinemacolor leading to the collapse of the company and effectively brought Smith’s remarkable career to an end. He started work with Michael Balcon (who was a friend of the family) in the script department at GaumontBritish in 1932 and then became an assistant director. but swiftly left to pursue a career in the cinema. He then followed Balcon as he went to MGM British and then on to Ealing. They even produced a feature-length film using the process. He lived to see film historians rediscover his work and was an honoured guest at the opening of the National Film Theatre in 1952. including Tartans of Scotland and Woman Draped in Handkerchiefs. he studied briefly at Oxford. Bibliography: John Barnes. After Eton. Born in London on 26 August 1912. the company produced more than 100 short films between 1910 and 1913 which demonstrated the possibilities of colour. With studios in Hove and Nice. He died in Brighton on 17 May 1959. Unfortunately. although he was to re-emerge as a low-budget producer in the 1930s. He worked with Victor SAVILLE on The Good Companions (1933) and with HITCHCOCK on a number of films including The 39 Steps (1935). T Pen TENNYSON Penrose Tennyson is a minor but appealing figure in British cinema history whose considerable promise was cut short by an early death. Lord Tennyson and his father was a senior government official. he was a great-grandson of the poet Alfred. . in Simon Popple and Vanessa Toulmin (eds). Vols 2–5 (Exeter: Exeter University Press. He was the youngest director then working in British films. It was here that he made his debut as a feature director with There Ain’t No Justice (1939) which he also wrote.pen tennyson 197 1914 as they became embroiled in ownership disputes. 2000).
who was already established as a director. Gerald Thomas was born on 10 December 1920 in Hull. S. rather than return to his studies he went into the film industry. The film’s radicalism was toned down with the outbreak of war and it was turned into something of a flag waver. This included cutting Ralph’s major commercial success . The Proud Valley (1940). The great American singer Paul Robeson is rather unconvincingly cast in the role of a migrant worker. Penrose Tennyson’. In the early 1950s he worked as an editor and second unit director for his elder brother Ralph. a drama set in the South Wales coalfields which clearly takes the side of the unemployed miners against the self-serving pit owners. Bibliography: Michael Balcon. Gerald THOMAS The place of Gerald Thomas in the history of British cinema is secured by the series of thirty-one Carry On films which he directed over the best part of twenty-five years. His death robbed British cinema of a director of enormous talent and future potential. Its characteristic story of self-sacrifice. It was to be his last film. achieving an almost unrivalled level of audience affection. He initially trained as an editor at Denham. but his student days were cut short by wartime service in the army. they recall the world of Donald McGill’s saucy seaside postcards. Convoy (1940). His third film was the wartime propaganda piece Convoy (1940). After being demobbed. busty blondes and nagging wives. as a merchant ship is destroyed saving a Royal Navy convoy. but is nonetheless a charismatic presence. Reviled by critics. bringing to the screen the vulgar humour and broad stereotypes of the music hall. He joined the Navy as an officer and was given the job of running the Admiralty’s Educational Film Unit when. C. British Feature Films: There Ain’t no Justice (1939). and obvious sincerity cemented Tennyson’s growing reputation. T. on 7 July 1941. where he worked on OLIVIER’s Hamlet (1948).198 gerald thomas He made a greater impact with The Proud Valley (1940). (Charles Tennyson). they occupy a special place in British popular culture. 1995). With their working-class layabouts. in Derek Tangye (ed. but loved by filmgoers. Went the Day Well (London: Michael Joseph. Pen Tennyson (London: A. ‘Sub-Lieutenant F. but it still generates considerable power in its depiction of working-class solidarity. At university he studied medicine. Atkinson. his flight to the naval base at Rosyth went down and he was killed along with everyone else on board.). 1943).
Their popularity rested on the enjoyably stereotyped characters played by the team of comic actors which Thomas and Rogers assembled. Joan Sims (battleaxe). knockabout comedy. Far from being reactionary. Film academics like Marion Jordan critiqued the series for its use of sexist and homophobic stereotyping. The film marked the beginning of his collaboration with producer Peter Rogers with whom he would make the Carry On series. including Cleo (1964). By the 1970s the series seemed to loose its way. Watch your Stern (1960) and Raising the Wind (1961). He made his directorial debut with Circus Friends (1956) for the Children’s Film Foundation and his first mainstream feature with Time Lock (1957).gerald thomas 199 Doctor in the House (1954). a vehicle for British rock ’n’ roll singer Tommy Steele. he pointed to their gleeful subversiveness. They made a handful of fairly undistinguished films together in the late 1950s including The Duke Wore Jeans (1958). Carry on Nurse (1959). including Sid James (working-class wide boy). a routine National Service farce. their broad comedy relied heavily on sexual innuendo which remained just the right side of blue to keep the censors happy. The formula for the Carry Ons was established with their second outing. crossing the line into genuinely adult humour and subsequently losing the sense of innocence which had endeared the films to audiences. Spying (1964). a neatly handled suspenser. Carry on London is threatened. It turned out to be surprise box office success and started the pair on the long running series which would dominate both their careers. Kenneth Williams (camp authority figure) and Charles Hawtrey (manically camp eccentric). The early films were dominated by send-ups of British institutions – Teacher (1959). with most of the original cast long dead and a new group of ‘alternative’ comedians failing to recapture the glories of the old team. Outside of the Carry Ons. Cowboy (1965) and the high watermark of the series. before releasing Carry on Sergeant (1958). The titles tell you everything you need to . Made cheaply at the rate of about two a year. At the time of going to press. A low point came with the crude Emmanuel (1978) but the series was belatedly revived one more time for the disastrous Columbus (1992). Carry On Up the Khyber (1968). These include Please Turn Over (1959) with Leslie Philips. When Talbot Rothwell took over writing duties they turned to parodies of film genres and historical subjects. but Andy Medhurst defended them as the ultimate proletarian entertainment which attained a kind of democracy by mocking everyone equally. Thomas’s other work rarely ventured far from the same style of suggestive. Constable (1960) – and scripted by Norman Hudis. Hattie Jacques (sexually predatory older woman).
Carry On Follow That Camel (1967). Carry On Regardless (1961). Carry On Up the Jungle (1970). Batsford. Carry On Don’t Lose Your Head (1966). Please Turn Over (1959). The Iron Maiden (1962). He worked his way up as a camera assistant and then as an editor at British Lion before distinguished army service in the Second World War. in their prime they provided a riposte to British cinema’s obsession with worthy period dramas and gritty social realism. Carry On Cowboy (1965). Twice Round the Daffodils (1962). The Vicious Circle (1957). After studying at Middlesex College. That’s Carry On (1977): Carry On Emmanuel (1978). Carry On Cruising (1962). Carry On Cabby (1963). The Second Victory (1986). T. Carry On Abroad (1972). Carry On Jack (1964). Raising the Wind (1961). Carry On Henry (1971). Carry On Screaming (1966). Carry On Doctor (1967). Nurse On Wheels (1963). Bibliography: Robert Ross. 1996). Watch Your Stern (1960). Chain of Events (1957). Carry On Girls (1973). Carry On Teacher (1959). Carry On Matron (1972). The Solitary Child (1958). Carry On Constable (1960). The Carry On Companion (London: B. He died on 9 November 1993. In later years he made television spin-offs from the Carry Ons and various compilations of clips. Carry On Again Doctor (1969). It was here that he met Betty Box who was to become his producer in a partnership which lasted for twenty-five years. Carry On Dick (1974). Time Lock (1957). No Kidding (1960). Ralph THOMAS Ralph Thomas was born in Hull on 10 August 1915. Carry On Nurse (1959). Their warm humour and mocking of British inhibitions hit a nerve with audiences. Carry On Camping (1969). Carry On Loving (1970). Despite the obvious decline of the Carry Ons. ensuring Thomas’s place of honour in the roll call of British popular culture. The Duke Wore Jeans (1958). Carry On Sergeant (1958).200 ralph thomas know. He began directing in the late 1940s with some unremarkable comedies made for Rank at their Gainsborough studios . he joined the Rank Organisation working initially in their trailers department. Carry On Behind (1975). as well as directing stage productions featuring the team. British Feature Films: Circus Friends (1956). Carry On at your Convenience (1971). Carry On Spying (1964). Bless This House (1972). After the war. Carry On Cleo (1964). The Big Job (1965). Carry On Columbus (1992). Carry On Up the Khyber (1968). he entered the film industry in 1932 as a clapperboy at Sound City studios. Carry On England (1976).
Most striking is the acerbic political fable No Love for Johnnie (1961). and the typically stoic naval drama Above Us the Waves (1955). which was the first of his films to be produced by Betty Box. and the spy spoof Hot Enough for June (1964). but by the 1970s he had hit rock bottom entering the world of the British sex comedy with the penis-transplant antics of Percy (1971) and its even worse sequel. an update of Bulldog Drummond for Swinging London. romance and characterisation into a highly successful formula. There was some mileage in Deadlier Than the Male (1966). while working for Rank at Pinewood. During the 1950s. he became a pillar of mainstream commercial production. Thomas showed a gift for mixing gentle humour. However. but who usually combined this with restraint and some regard for the audience. with Michael Craig and Leslie Philips taking over the central role of Simon Sparrow. although he seemed more comfortable in the romances than as an action hero. Thomas’s most impressive work came at the start of the 1960s.ralph thomas 201 base. the new decade ushered in the beginning of a decline as Thomas seemed increasingly out of step with changing attitudes. It was a tawdry final chapter for a director who had always shown an unerring eye for the box office. Other interesting films include Appointment with Venus (1951). but he proved adept at a variety of genres. All of these featured Rank’s favourite leading man Dirk Bogarde. about Italian nuns rescuing Jewish children from the Nazi camps. It was nominated at the Berlin Film Festival. Six sequels followed. a quirky wartime comedy set in the Channel Islands. is certainly sentimental but manages a real emotional impact. Conspiracy of Hearts (1960). The thriller Nobody Runs Forever (1968) works well enough. Percy’s Progress (1974). Kenneth More and James Robertson Justice. His other work in this period included location action films such as the cod-western Campbell’s Kingdom (1957). with an excellent Peter Finch as the meretricious Labour MP who puts his career above his principles. Particularly striking among his early films is the Hitchcockian chase thriller The Clouded Yellow (1950). bringing professionalism and polish to a wide range of subjects. the romantic melodrama The Wind Cannot Read (1958) and tasteful literary adaptation with A Tale of Two Cities (1958). although the comedy progressively coarsened over the years. including the bizarre screwball farce Helter Skelter (1949). . His commercial breakthrough came with the amiable and enduringly popular hospital comedy Doctor in the House (1954) for which he remains best known. Less well advised was a lifeless remake of HITCHCOCK’s The 39 Steps (1958). With a fine cast including Dirk Bogarde.
Percy’s Progress (1974). He served with the RAF during the Second World War and then returned to work at Elstree. Conspiracy of Hearts (1960). Traveller’s Joy (1949). (John) Lee Thompson went on to establish a reputation as a director of genre movies with a strongly masculine character. An Autobiography of British Cinema (London: Methuen. Quest for Love (1971). J. His brother was Gerald THOMAS. Doctor in Clover (1966).202 j. He moved into cinema in the mid-1930s. but for the whole of the 1950s he and Betty Box seemed to have an uncanny ability to produce solidly entertaining mass entertainment films which on occasions pushed beyond this into something more ambitious. Percy (1971). The 39 Steps (1958). Doctor at Large (1957). Doctor in Distress (1963). No. The Dog and the Diamonds (1953). Ralph Thomas died on 17 March 2001. The Clouded Yellow (1950). lee thompson Thomas may have lacked the visual style and distinctive approach required by the auteur theory. another adaptation of one of his plays. Deadlier Than the Male (1966). director of the Carry On films. A Tale of Two Cities (1958). Above Us the Waves (1955). No Love Johnnie (1961). The Wild and the Willing (1962). and his son Jeremy became an accomplished producer and Chairman of the BFI. A Day to Remember (1953). initially adapting his own plays and then writing original screenplays. Campbell’s Kingdom (1957). Mad About Men (1954). Bibliography: Brian McFarlane. His directorial debut came with Murder Without Crime (1950) for ABPC. Appointment with Venus (1951). The High Bright Sun (1965). Doctor at Sea (1955). He was dialogue coach on HITCHCOCK’s Jamaica Inn (1939) and was influenced by the efficiency of the master’s preplanning of shots. Upstairs and Downstairs (1959). but he achieved greater success as a writer and his play Double Error became a West End production. Doctor in Love (1960). The Wind Cannot Read (1958). his career started as an actor with Nottingham Repertory Company. Born into a theatrical family. Doctor in Trouble (1970). British Feature Films: Helter Skelter (1949). Once Upon a Dream (1949). The Biggest Bank Robbery (1980). Doctor in the House (1954). Checkpoint (1956). The Iron Petticoat (1956). It’s 2’ 6@ Above the Ground (1973). Lee THOMPSON Born in Bristol on 1 August 1914. . 1977). Nobody Runs Forever (1968). Some Girls Do (1969). My Darling Daughter (1961). Venetian Bird (1952). Hot Enough for June (1964). A Pair of Briefs (1961).
an epic of battling Cossacks and Poles. Priestley’s The Good Companions (1956). a tough portrait of life in London during the depression of the 1930s. In many respects it’s the quintessential Lee Thompson film of this period. which won him an Oscar nomination. The depiction of Cardiff’s docklands in Tiger Bay (1959) had a characteristic sense of authenticity.j. Particularly . with Yul Bryner and Tony Curtis as a feuding father and son. He began to establish a distinctive style with the powerful Yield to the Night (1956) which gave Diana Dors her finest screen opportunity playing a character uncannily similar to Ruth Ellis. After a forgettable version of J. from the tepid newly weds comedy of For Better. Produced and scripted by the blacklisted American Carl Foreman. a stark portrait of a disintegrating marriage adapted from Ted Willis’s breakthrough television play. big-budget adventure yarns beginning with the compelling Ice Cold in Alex (1958). lee thompson 203 For the first half of the 1950s he was a reliable studio director turning out a variety of films. In the late 1950s Thompson changed direction. The film was a box office hit and made a star of child actress Hayley Mills. the film combines spectacular set-pieces with surprisingly thoughtful dialogue. The film’s popularity established Thompson with Hollywood and he continued in similar vein with Taras Bulba (1962). The film is lean and realistic but not without elements of effective melodrama and had a considerable impact on the public attitude to capital punishment. multi-ethnic streets. the tension neatly maintained to an impressively explosive finale. His flare for genre and disciplined direction made him ideal at bringing films in on time and within budget. the last woman to be hanged in Britain. More exotic adventures followed with the dashing Northwest Frontier (1959) and the enormous commercial success of The Guns of Navarone (1961). becoming known internationally for a number of smartly handled. The quality of his output in this period was recognised with a series of nominations at Cannes. a taut combination of character-driven drama and atmospheric desert action. The remainder of Thompson’s career belongs largely to American cinema. to the Jack Buchanan vehicle As Long as They’re Happy (1955) and the zany animal-on-theloose farce of An Alligator Named Daisy (1955). His commercial acumen was proved by the success of many of his Hollywood films. Berlin and the BAFTAs. B. Thompson’s returned to social realism with Woman in a Dressing Gown (1957). For Worse (1954) with Dirk Bogarde. vividly capturing its teeming. combining elements of the crime genre with a documentary filming style and a liberalism apparent in the sympathetic depiction of the young murderer played by Horst Buchholz. He worked with Willis again on No Trees in the Street (1958).
British Feature Films: Murder Without Crime (1950). Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973) is strictly a low-budget filler. and Country Dance (1969) with Peter O’Toole going mad as an aristocrat with incestuous designs on his sister. In America he worked with Carl Foreman again on the starry. His reputation declined in the mid-1960s with a couple of frenetic comedies featuring Shirley MacLaine. With its sweaty southern locales and Bernard Herrmann score. but a more recent re-evaluation has acknowledged the remarkable quality of his best work which combines populist elements with humanitarian concerns and a tough realism with a considerable visual flair. They made nine films together. the liberalism of Thompson’s earlier work is replaced by an increasingly reactionary strain. The final stage of Thompson’s career was dominated by his partnership with the stony-faced Charles Bronson. lee thompson notable is his superbly menacing Cape Fear (1962) with Gregory Peck as the lawyer stalked by a suitably alarming ex-con played by Robert Mitchum. His critical reputation has been rather unfairly hampered by the poor quality of some of his later American films and his tendency to fit in with prevailing commercial trends. it brought the most creative period of Thompson’s career to a close. spectacular western McKenna’s Gold (1969). but the allegorical aspects of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972). sufficiently frightened its American producer for the film to be toned down. Canada on 30 August 2002. with Bronson typically cast as a macho avenger violently bringing the bad guys to book. a suspense thriller with darker themes of postwar angst. with its timely story of a ‘racial’ uprising. He continued to work intermittently in Britain in the late 1960s making the well intentioned Before Winter Comes (1968). made a saccharin musical version of Huckleberry Finn (1974) and directed the final two films in the Planet of the Apes cycle. with David Niven as a British officer dealing with displaced persons in the wake of the Second World War.204 j. He directed his last film in 1989 and died in British Columbia. This was followed by Eye of the Devil (1967). For Worse . a bizarre gothic melodrama which went through a variety of production difficulties as well as clashes with the censors. He returned to Britain to make Return from the Ashes (1965). For Better. The Yellow Balloon (1953). From St Ives (1976) to the lamentable The Evil That Men Do (1984) and the dire Death Wish 4: The Crackdown (1987). He also made an overblown version of King Solomon’s Mines (1985) and a thinly veiled portrait of Aristotle Onassis in The Greek Tycoon (1978) starring Anthony Quinn. The Weak and the Wicked (1953).
J. As Long as They’re Happy (1955). She continued to direct for the theatre well into the 1990s. She was something of an infant prodigy. North West Frontier (1959). Wendy TOYE Wendy Toye was born on 1 May 1917 in London. Tiger Bay (1959). Yield to the Night (1956). it picked up an award at the Cannes Film Festival and won her a contract with producer Alexander KORDA. Woman in a Dressing Gown (1957). Return from the Ashes (1965). On KORDA’s death in 1956 her contract moved to Rank where she continued to show an aptitude for making box-office hits with the romantic comedy All for Mary (1956) and a nautical farce True as a Turtle (1956). She made her first appearance in films with Anthony ASQUITH’s Dance Pretty Lady in 1931. After one further short film. No Trees in the Street (1958). Directed with real visual flair and imagination. while she continued also to work in the music hall. The Passage (1978). The Good Companions (1956). providing one episode in the portmanteau chiller Three Cases of Murder (1955). The Most Dangerous Man in the World (1969). This was followed by engagements with a number of international ballet and stage companies as a choreographer and performer. she crossed over into television eventually filming a second version of The Stranger Left No Card (1981) as part of the successful Tales of the Unexpected series. . Her career as a stage choreographer was to continue successfully into the 1950s. Lee Thompson (Manchester: Manchester University Press. Eye of the Devil (1967). but she was more interested in working behind the camera and soon found employment as a choreographer with credits for distinguished directors such as Carol REED and Herbert WILCOX. Ice Cold in Alex (1958). The Guns of Navarone (1961). She achieved early fame after appearing on stage at the Albert Hall as a three-year-old dancer. All were handled with professionalism and a degree of style. Arthur. performing in music hall and starring at the Palladium at the age of nine in a ballet she had choreographed herself. Her last completed feature film was We Joined the Navy (1962) which mined a similar vein. Country Dance (1969). An Alligator Named Daisy (1955). Bibliography: Steve Chibnall. Before Winter Comes (1968). She worked on three films for him. She finally made her debut as a film director in 1952 with the celebrated short The Stranger Left No Card made for producer George K. 2000). directing the Francis Durbridge adaptation The Teckman Mystery (1954) and the popular comedy Raising a Riot (1955).wendy toye 205 (1954). including Diaghilev’s Ballet Russe.
1994). but in 1934 he moved again.206 marcel varnel Although her output may appear relatively modest (she was certainly constrained by the requirements of the studio system of the 1950s). eight for Will Hay and nine for George Formby as well as four featuring the Crazy Gang. His British career started with a series of long forgotten musicals and comedies. For a director known for such characteristically British fare it’s ironic that Varnel was actually born in Paris on 16 October 1894 as Marcel Hyacinth Le Bozec.). True as a Turtle (1956). Raising a Riot (1955). He switched to directing musical comedies and in 1925 made a successful move to Broadway. Wendy Toye is an important. Re-Viewing British Cinema 1900–1992 (Albany. He attended Charterhouse and the French Conservatory of Dramatic Arts. ‘The Tensions of Genre: Wendy Toye and Muriel Box’. groundbreaking figure in the maledominated world of British cinema. Marcel Varnel is probably the one most closely associated with the musical hall comedy style which was in its heyday in the 1930s. His first films were made in Hollywood in the early 1930s and were mainly stage adaptations. this time to Britain. Three Cases of Murder (1955. NY: State University of New York Press. V Marcel VARNEL Of all British directors. she proved categorically that a woman could work efficiently in the role of director and helped to pave the way for later generations of women film-makers. Askey’s chirpy persona is at its best in Band Waggon (1940). British Feature Films: The Teckman Mystery (1954). He directed three vehicles for Arthur Askey. and Wheeler Winston Dixon. Bibliography: Caroline Merz. one segment). All for Mary (1956). Boys! (1937) which made a big screen star of music hall comedian Will Hay. but his future path was cemented by Good Morning. before starting his career as a stage actor in Paris. We Joined the Navy (1962). With her consummate professionalism and instinct for populist entertainment. Varnel’s theatrical training stood him in good stead and he was able to fashion sympathetic vehicles for British comics of the period which effectively displayed their individual talents. based on his long-running radio . ‘An Interview with Wendy Toye’. in Wheeler Winston Dixon (ed.
Good Morning.marcel varnel 207 show. Ask a Policeman (1939) is a briskly handled farce. Alf’s Button Afloat (1938). Gang! (1941). Dance Band (1935). South American George (1941). I Thank You (1941). while Alf’s Button Afloat (1938) is a fine record of the surreal anarchy of the Crazy Gang. ‘Where’s That Fire?’ (1939). O-Kay for Sound (1937). Let George Do It! (1940). stationmaster). Although this type of humour may be out of favour with current audiences. Gasbags (1940). not helped by the rather tired-looking later vehicles for Formby. The Formby vehicles were too often threadbare productions which mechanically overworked George’s already well established character as a cheerfully gormless northerner. All In (1936). Girls Will Be Boys (1934). policeman. Hey! Hey! USA! (1938). The Net (1941). Oh. Old Bones of the River (1938). The best of the bunch are Turned Out Nice Again (1941) and the entertaining wartime propaganda piece Let George Do It! (1940). Hi. Mr Porter! (1937). but their finest hour together came with the joyful Oh. Convict 99 (1938). Band Waggon (1940). Ask a Policeman (1939). In his best work. usually in the form of some disreputable authority figure (teacher. but by the end of the war the genre was already losing its popular appeal. co-director). Boys! (1937). Its legacy can be seen in the Norman Wisdom films of the 1950s and the much-loved Carry On series in the 1960s. Turned Out Nice Again (1941). Varnel preserved on film the talents of a generation of top British comedians and provided audiences with some of the most popular films of the 1930s and early 1940s. The Frozen Limits (1939). it builds up a fine head of steam with some skilfully executed slapstick routines and caustically dry one-liners. but his progress was brought to a violent end when he was killed in a car accident on 13 July 1947. has survived changes in audience tastes better than the other comics Varnel worked with. With his career in decline Varnel returned to the theatre. No Monkey Business (1935). King Arthur Was a Gentleman . The most memorable of all Varnel’s work was done with Will Hay. bumbling persona. An unofficial reworking of Arnold Ridley’s The Ghost Train. 1 (1936). Royal Cavalcade (1935. Mr Porter! (1937) which probably encapsulates the music hall comedy better than any other film. Varnel neatly adapted his approach to the patriotic demands of wartime cinema with films like Will Hay’s The Ghost of St Michael’s (1941). His cynical. but audiences couldn’t get enough. it has an inventiveness and anti-authoritarian vigour which certainly hit a nerve with contemporary audiences. Neutral Port (1940). Public Nuisance No. I Give My Heart (1935). British Feature Films: Freedom of the Seas (1934). The Ghost of St Michael’s (1941).
with Hammer studios in decline. He continued to work independently in soft-core sexploitation with School for Sex (1968) and Cool It Carol (1970). His sombre. George in Civvy Street (1946). Heritage Films (he went on to produce and finance all but one of the films he directed). A Chorus of Raspberries: British Film Comedy 1929–1939 (Exeter: University of Exeter Press. Frightmare (1974) and House of Mortal Sin (1975). gradually moving into suspense thrillers with Man of Violence (1970) and Die Screaming. This Man Is Mine (1946) Bibliography: Robert Murphy. foster homes and Catholic schools. Marianne (1971). Walker was born in Brighton in January 1939. W Pete WALKER In the 1970s. He Snoops to Conquer (1944). Bell-Bottom George (1944). 1989). but following his father’s death in 1945 he spent a dislocated childhood in orphanages. before making his first properly distributed feature with I Like Birds (1967). perfectly mirroring the dreary disillusionment of the 1970s. Get Cracking (1943). Much Too Shy (1942). but their critical standing rests more on their allegorical qualities and the visual . He followed it with the three films on which his reputation is based: House of Whipcord (1974). the fate of the British horror film fell to a group of film-makers schooled in the lower reaches of exploitation cinema. From the late 1950s he worked intermittently as a film actor and a stand-up comedian. Realism and Tinsel: Cinema and Society in Britain. before establishing his own low-budget production company. In the 1960s he churned out 8 mm ‘glamour’ films. David Sutton. His father was the popular comedian Syd Walker and his mother a chorus girl. 1939–49 (London: Routledge. Their graphic violence pushed them into territory where Hammer had never ventured. He even tried his hand with 3D on Four Dimensions of Greta (1972). Rising to the top was Pete Walker. as well as behind the camera on television commercials. 2000). who brought a sufficiently individual approach to the genre to establish a bloodsoaked cult reputation. I Didn’t Do It (1945). It was with the baroque Grand Guignol and dark humour of The Flesh and Blood Show (1972) that Walker’s characteristic approach to horror first really emerged.208 pete walker (1942). macabre oeuvre is testament to a strikingly pessimistic sensibility.
institutional violence and psychotic priests. Home Before Midnight (1979). who usually underestimate the power of the corrupt establishment they are up against. With Schizo (1976) and The Comeback (1978) Walker moved toward more conventional genre material. With their stories of cannibalistic families. Tiffany Jones (1973). Frightmare (1974). 1998). Ireland and was brought up in England. The former is represented by ex-judges. as he turned to property dealing and restoring classic cinemas. as the audience is left to ponder the triumph of the malevolent over the benign. Walker’s disillusionment with British film production in the 1980s led to his early retirement from film-making. probably in Cork. His legacy is an exceptional contribution to a genre that Britain has frequently made its own. as well as the immoral young. British Feature Films: I Like Birds (1967). He worked as a journalist and served . House of Whipcord (1974). The latter film also exhibits his sense of irony in its use of the American crooner Jack Jones and by introducing an element of self-parody. Herbert WILCOX Herbert Wilcox was born on 18 April 1890. House of Mortal Sin (1975). Pastiche has largely taken over with House of the Long Shadows (1983) which rather wastes its larger than usual budget and an extraordinary cast of horror icons including Christopher Lee. memorably reinventing the gothic horror to address the climate of the 1970s. Cool It Carol (1970). balancing an attack on hypocritical authority with an almost equally grim portrait of a liberal. Making Mischief: The Cult Films of Pete Walker (Guildford: FAB Press. The shocking images and deliberately grisly mise en sce`ne also seem to capture eloquently the mood of the period. House of the Long Shadows (1983). self-indulgent counterculture. Die Screaming. while the latter takes the form of well-meaning psychiatrists and naive do-gooders. Catholic priests and family matriarchs (these usually played chillingly by Sheila Keith) whose public morality hides acts of perverse cruelty. Man of Violence (1970). The Comeback (1978).herbert wilcox 209 flair which Walker brought to potentially tawdry material. There are no reassuringly happy endings either. Four Dimensions of Greta (1972). The Flesh and Blood Show (1972). Strip Poker (1968). School for Sex (1968). foreshadowing the development of the slasher movie of the 1980s. Bibliography: Steve Chibnall. these films offer a commentary on 1970s Britain. Marianne (1971). Schizo (1976). Peter Cushing and Vincent Price.
in the First World War before entering the industry in 1918 as a distributor. In the 1920s he formed the production company GrahamWilcox with the director Graham Cutts and proved to be a pioneering producer and director, arranging German co-productions and using American stars like Dorothy Gish and Will Rogers to help market British films in the States. He was instrumental in creating British National and was later Head of Production at British and Dominions, as well as helping to establish Elstree Studios. His commercial acumen was apparent in his pursuit of technical innovation, which included early experiments with sound and colour. He made his directorial debut with a silent version of the stage musical Chu Chin Chow (1923) and scored a critical hit with Dawn (1928), the first of two films he was to make about the nurse Edith Cavell. Wilcox was a prolific film-maker, directing over fifty films and producing twice that number. More than thirty of these films were vehicles for his wife, the actress Anna Neagle, whom he married in 1943. Their first film together was the musical romance Goodnight Vienna (1932) and they made a number of films in the same vein during the 1930s including Limelight (1936) and London Melody (1937). However, their most popular films were reverential biopics of historical figures, particularly Victoria the Great (1937) and its sequel Sixty Glorious Years (1938) which was shot in Technicolor. Rather less tasteful but more lively was Nell Gwyn (1934) which Wilcox had previously filmed in the silent period. He also continued to be a successful producer throughout the 1930s, filming a number of the Aldwych Farces starting with Rookery Nook (1930) and producing a series of comedy vehicles for Jack Buchanan. During the early war years, Wilcox and Neagle worked for RKO in Hollywood, but they returned to Britain to make They Flew Alone (1942) about the aviator Amy Johnson. Although Yellow Canary (1943) offered more in the way of patriotic drama, their most memorable work of the 1940s was the so-called ‘London romances’ which began with I Live in Grosvenor Square (1945). Neagle was cast initially opposite the American Dean Jagger, but in Piccadilly Incident (1946), Spring in Park Lane (1948) and Maytime in Mayfair (1949) she was partnered by Michael Wilding. The series became increasingly fantastical, offering the austerity audiences of postwar Britain escape into a fantasy of upper-class life, replete with lavish ball scenes and aristocrats disguised as butlers. The Courtneys of Curzon Street (1947) offered a period variation on the style, with its depiction of three generations of romances that break class divides. Although dated now, these films were among the most successful of the period.
Wilcox’s work in the 1950s seemed to ape the impact of his earlier films, with The Lady with a Lamp (1951) portraying Florence Nightingale in typically romanticised manner and Lilacs in the Spring (1955) allowing Neagle to play Nell Gwyn and Queen Victoria again in one film. The strongest of his later films is Odette (1950), a surprisingly tough, moving portrait of a French resistance agent played with considerable power by Neagle. Wilcox’s final throw of the dice came with a series of ill-advised films in the late 1950s that tried to cash in on the emerging youth culture. These began with the lurid My Teenage Daughter (1956) and continued with vehicles for the pop singer Frankie Vaughan including These Dangerous Years (1957) and The Heart of a Man (1959). He found it difficult to get ventures off the ground in the 1960s and was eventually declared bankrupt. He died in London on 15 May 1977. Wilcox the director is rather overshadowed by Wilcox the producer, who always retained his independence and kept afloat financially for four decades, a record rivalled by very few other British producers. As a director, he was a more than serviceable craftsman with an astute eye for commercial trends. With his wife he formed one of the most unusual partnerships in British cinema, offering audiences escapist entertainment which often harked back to an imagined golden age of class deference and national pride. British Feature Films: Chu Chin Chow (1923); Decameron Nights (1924); Southern Love (1924); Nell Gwyn (1926); The Only Way (1926); London (1926); Madame Pompadour (1927); Mumsie (1927); Dawn (1928); Tiptoes (1928); The Bondman (1929); The Woman in White (1929); The Loves of Robert Burns (1930); The Chance of a Night-Time (1931); Carnival (1931); Goodnight Vienna (1932); The Blue Danube (1932); Money Means Nothing (1932); Bitter Sweet (1933); The King’s Cup (1933); The Little Damozel (1933); Yes Mr Brown (1933); Nell Gwyn (1934); The Queen’s Affair (1934); Peg of Old Drury (1935); Limelight (1936); This’ll Make you Whistle (1936); The Three Maxims (1936); London Melody (1937); Victoria the Great (1937); Sixty Glorious Years (1938); They Flew Alone (1942); Yellow Canary (1943); I Live in Grosvenor Square (1945); Piccadilly Incident (1946); The Courtneys of Curzon Street (1947); Elizabeth of Ladymead (1948); Spring in Park Lane (1948); Maytime in Mayfair (1949); Into the Blue (1950); Odette (1950); The Lady with a Lamp (1951); Derby Day (1952); Trent’s Last Case (1952); Laughing Annie (1953); Trouble in the Glen (1954); King’s Rhapsody (1955); Lilacs in the Spring (1955); My Teenage Daughter (1956); The Man Who Wouldn’t Talk (1957); Wonderful Things (1957);
These Dangerous Years (1957); The Lady Is a Square (1958); The Heart of a Man (1958). Bibliography: Herbert Wilcox, Twenty-Five Thousand Sunsets: The Autobiography of Herbert Wilcox (London: Bodley Head, 1967). Michael WINNER Michael Winner is one of the best known British film-makers with the general public, as recognisable these days for his appearances in television commercials as for his films. He has been a largely unpretentious director of mainstream entertainment films throughout his career, riding the waves of changing public taste with considerable commercial acumen. Critics have tended to either ignore his work or revile it as crude exploitation, but in a national cinema often accused of timidity, his has been a notably blunt, brash contribution. Winner was born on 30 October 1935 in London. His parents were Jewish immigrants, his mother Polish and his father Russian. He was educated at a Quaker boarding school and then read law at Cambridge. From an early age he showed the self-confidence and determination that have marked his career, becoming a newspaper gossip columnist at fourteen. He worked in television with the BBC from the mid-1950s and then served his apprenticeship in the film industry on shorts and ‘B’ movies, working as assistant director, scriptwriter and eventually director. In his later career he often had a hand in the scripts he filmed and liked to produce for his own company. His willingness to take on low-rent commercial chores without flinching was apparent from the beginning with the soft-porn ‘nudie’ Some Like It Cool (1961). He moved into the mainstream with Play It Cool (1962), a musical aimed at the emerging youth market and featuring British pop stars Billy Fury and Helen Shapiro. Winner has always shown an ability to latch on to current audience trends, so this was followed by The Cool Mikado (1962), an updated version of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta. He tried for New Wave-style social realism in West 11 (1963), a portrait of London’s homeless drifters, and for more traditional knockabout comedy with You Must be Joking! (1965), featuring such reliable performers at Terry-Thomas and Lionel Jeffries. He really hit his stride as Swinging London began to take off, directing several films that have verve as well as an eye for the changing social scene. He shows assurance and lightness of touch with the ironic seaside farce The System (1964), panache on the caper film The Jokers (1966) and an easy-going warmth with Hannibal Brooks (1969), where Oliver Reed is the Second World War POW escaping across the Alps on an elephant.
Reed also starred in both the earlier films and in I’ll Never Forget What’s ’Is Name (1967), a more serious, critical depiction of 1960s values. The Jokers and Hannibal Brooks benefited from tight scripting by television sitcom veterans Dick Clement and Ian Le Frenais. These films are sometimes flashy and superficial, but they also manage a degree of charm, as well as capturing the current British scene with some veracity. They remain the most agreeable of Winner’s output. With Winner’s approach to film-making, it was perhaps inevitable that he would move onto a wider stage. The Games (1969) is a bigbudget international film depicting preparations for the Olympics and finishing with an excitingly staged marathon race. Having proved his professionalism, Winner headed for Hollywood where, during the 1970s and 1980s, he was a reliable producer of formulaic genre movies covering horror, westerns, film noir and particularly action films. His regular star was the stony-faced Charles Bronson who plays a succession of tough loners meeting out justice at the point of a gun to a world full of malevolent bad guys. Most controversial of these films was Death Wish (1974), a violent vigilante movie which gave full expression to the reactionary political and moral views which Winner was to make public on a number of occasions. The liberal press was horrified, but that didn’t stop Winner from churning out two sequels as the customers kept coming. The hypocrisy of making films which condemn violent crime while simultaneously exalting in gratuitous brutality as entertainment seems to have completely bypassed Winner. He made regular visits to Britain during the 1970s, including the lurid shocker The Nightcomers (1971) with Marlon Brando and a version of Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep (1978) which curiously shifted its setting from California to London. He returned on a more permanent basis in the 1980s as his Hollywood career waned. He made a crude, but vigorous remake of Gainsborough’s The Wicked Lady (1983), complete with a female whip-fighting sequence, while Appointment with Death (1988) was a proficient Agatha Christie adaptation. A Chorus of Disapproval (1989) offered a surprisingly well-judged, sympathetic version of Alan Ayckbourn’s play, but he courted controversy again with Dirty Weekend (1993), a reworking of Death Wish with a female rape victim handing out the instant justice this time. His most recent outing was the inept revenge black comedy, Parting Shots (1998). In more recent years Winner’s interest in cinema seems to have taken second place to leading campaigns to recognise police heroism and writing restaurant reviews for Sunday newspapers. Winner’s films have frequently antagonised with their simplistic values, predictable genre
elements and gleeful brutality. His directorial style has won him few friends, veering from the extravagance of his 1960s movies to the pared down, anonymous approach of his more recent work. None of this criticism is likely to cut much ice with Winner, who has consistently defied the brickbats and got on with making the films that he believes audiences want to see. British Feature Films: Shoot to Kill (1960); Old Mac (1960); Out of the Shadow (1961); Some Like It Cool (1961); Play It Cool (1962); The Cool Mikado (1962); West 11 (1963); The System (1964); You Must be Joking! (1965); The Jokers (1966); I’ll Never Forget What’s ’Is Name (1967); Hannibal Brooks (1969); The Games (1969); The Nightcomers (1971); The Big Sleep (1978); Firepower (1979); The Wicked Lady (1983); Appointment with Death (1988); A Chorus of Disapproval (1989); Dirty Weekend (1993); Parting Shots (1998). Bibliography: Bill Harding, The Films of Michael Winner (London: Frederick Muller, 1978). Michael WINTERBOTTOM Michael Winterbottom, who was born on 29 March 1961 in Blackburn, is one of the most impressive talents to have emerged from contemporary British cinema. After studying English at Oxford and then taking a film course at Bristol University, he began his professional career working in television. He graduated from editing to direction,
but there is a similar concern for individuals destroyed by a combination of their own character traits and the unavoidable forces of progress. it depicts the war in the Balkans through a mixture of fact and fiction. Winterbottom is nothing if not eclectic. and the sympathetic depiction of social outsiders as in any standard generic formula.michael winterbottom 215 working on a number of television series and films including Forget About Me (1990). I Want You (1998). . The film is direct in its criticism of the West’s failure to act quickly enough to stop the suffering taking place. but elicits strong performances from its two leads (Amanda Plummer and Saskia Reeves) and captures a cinematically unfamiliar England of dreary motorway service stations and chance meetings. was an unsettling account of romantic obsession set against a backdrop of asylum-seekers in the coastal town of Hastings. The film never quite lives up to its own pretensions. the first of several collaborations with writer Frank Cottrell Boyce. searching for meaning in their lives. teeming with life and yet lonely. and the IRA drama Love Lies Bleeding (1993). An original talent is already apparent in this haunting depiction of the relationship between two women. loosely adapted from The Mayor of Casterbridge. creating an overpowering sense of immediacy and emotional involvement. melancholy images which are a long way from the picturesque Merchant-Ivory approach to literary adaptation. The setting has been shifted from rural Dorset to America’s Sierra Nevada during the nineteenth-century gold rush. Location is also key to Wonderland (1999). In 1995 he formed the production company Revolution Films with Andrew Eaton and made his theatrical debut with Butterfly Kiss (1995). Winterbottom returned to contemporary subject matter in Welcome to Sarajevo (1997). Using grainy digital video. An iconoclastic temperament is evident in Jude (1996). one of whom is revealed to be a serial killer and the other her eventual accomplice and lover. he seemed as interested in the location. London is exchanged for Manchester in 24 Hour Party People (2002). Again. cinematic recreation and archive footage. Drawn from the experiences of journalist Michael Nicholson. which is used atmospherically. His next film. a version of the first half of Thomas Hardy’s classic novel. Hardy also provides the basic narrative for The Claim (2000). a partially experimental portrait of the lives of three young Londoners which vividly captures the capital as a place of possibility and frustration. Christopher Eccleston plays the eponymous hero with memorable intensity. The author’s Victorian tragedy is rendered in suitably austere. jagged editing and fluid camerawork. the film is another meditation on individuals estranged from their surroundings and each other. with elements of violence and voyeurism.
He worked with Steve Coogan again on A Cock and Bull Story (2005).216 michael winterbottom a nostalgic journey through the city’s illustrious pop music scene over the course of twenty years. which follows the journey of an Afghan refugee from Pakistan to London. Despite tabloid outrage. Winterbottom is a remarkably prolific film-maker. a bleak account of marital breakdown which was given a limited cinema release. based on the career of pioneering record company executive Tony Wilson played by comedian Steve Coogan. fifteen-year-old refugee. The range of subjects has been highly diverse. His films often combine realism with an experimental aesthetic which mirrors his passion for European art cinema giants like Fassbinder and Fellini. an updated version of Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy which handles the novel’s considerable complexities by portraying two actors involved in the making of an adaptation of the novel. He courted controversy with the sexually explicit 9 Songs (2004) which charts the progress and disintegration of a relationship purely through its physical dimension. literary adaptation and stories torn from the headlines. Winterbottom has continued to work in television making With or Without You (1999). The conceit works neatly. The result is a body of work which has already established him as the outstanding new director working in Britain since the 1990s. For Code 46 (2003) Winterbottom moved into the genre of science fiction. Again the director shows a concern with those caught up in the machinations of international politics. As an executive producer he has helped to foster the work of other young British film-makers including Marc Evans. with eleven features completed in the same number of years. The film makes characteristically striking use of the cityscape of modern-day Shanghai. the film is surprisingly restrained and even austere in its depiction of the characters. including a Golden Bear at Berlin for In This World and three nominations for the Palme d’Or at Cannes. . They have been showered with international awards. setting its love story in a futuristic totalitarian state with echoes of George Orwell. incorporating genre elements. The experiences of the socially excluded are again central to In This World (2002). and most recently The Road to Guanta´namo (2006) which mixes documentary and reconstruction to tell of the three British Muslims held by the American authorities following 9/11 who were subsequently released without charge. with the narrative structured by nine concerts which the couple attend together. preserving the original’s meditations on the nature of storytelling while allowing Winterbottom to play with the established comic personas of Coogan and his co-star Rob Brydon. The topicality of the story is reinforced by having the central role played by a real-life.
Wonderland (1999). Journal of Popular British Cinema. he made his directorial debut with Corridor of Mirrors in 1948. A Cock and Bull Story (2005). a psychological melodrama featuring Eric Portman. In This World (2002). although the ‘social problem’ film Serious Charge (1959) handled the topical issue of homosexuality with restraint and thoughtfulness. The casting of Sean Connery as Bond was crucial. I Want You (1998). 5 114–23. 9 Songs (2004). After service as a paratrooper during the Second World War (he was wounded at Arnhem). Little of Young’s work from the 1950s is of any lasting interest. ‘ ‘‘Living in a World That Did Not Want Them’’: Michael Winterbottom and the Unpopular British Cinema’. He was born in Shanghai. The Claim (2000). sex and exotic locales which distinguished the formula. . Code 46 (2003). 24 Hour Party People (2002). but Young showed more than mere proficiency in balancing the action. The relatively routine job of helming a modestly budgeted adaptation of Ian Fleming’s Dr No (1962) turned out to be one of the defining moments of British cinema. studied at Cambridge and entered the industry as a scriptwriter in 1936. Its fantasy violence and easy sex were skilfully undercut by shafts of black humour and selfparody. Welcome to Sarajevo (1997).terence young 217 British Feature Films: Butterfly Kiss (1995). The result was a cultural phenomenon and Young was to return to Bondage on two further occasions. period solemnities in That Lady (1955) and imperial heroics with Storm Over the Nile (1955). China on 20 June 1915. Y Terence YOUNG Terence Young enjoyed a lengthy career as a solidly proficient director of mainstream entertainment films but preserves a special niche in the history of British cinema for his central involvement in the creation of the long-running series of James Bond films. Thunderball (1965) is a slightly predictable series entry with only its spectacular underwater scenes to make it stand out. Bibliography: Neil Sinyard and Melanie Williams. Jude (1996). He quickly established himself as a safe pair of hands in a variety of genres ranging from war adventures like They Were Not Divided (1950) and The Red Beret (1953) to musical comedy with One Night With You (1948). but From Russia With Love (1963) would get the nod of many fans as the high point of the whole Bond pantheon.
Bibliography: James Chapman. France on 7 September 1994. but with his three Bond films he helped to establish the most successful cinematic franchise British cinema has yet produced and thereby ensured his place in its story. The Jigsaw Man (1984). Zarak (1956). They Were Not Divided (1950). The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders (1965). B. Too Hot to Handle (1960). He died in Cannes. Thunderball (1965). Licence to Thrill: A Cultural History of the James Bond Films (London: I. 1999). That Lady (1955). Mayerling (1968). . Young was never less than a highly professional craftsman who showed a particular skill with set-pieces. Storm Over the Nile (1955). Triple Cross (1966). From Russia With Love (1963). His later British films range from the heavy-handed period romance Mayerling (1968) to the undistinguished spy yarn The Jigsaw Man (1983). Valley of Eagles (1951). One Night With You (1948). Tauris. Woman Hater (1948). He faired little better in Hollywood where he was resident for most of the 1970s making such aberrations as The Klansman (1974) and the bizarre Inchon (1981). Safari (1956). The Red Beret (1953).218 terence young Young never really regained such giddy heights and many of his 1960s films were muddled European co-productions. Dr No (1962). Tall Headlines (1952). British Feature Films: Corridor of Mirrors (1948). although the earlier suspense thriller Wait Until Dark (1967) with Audrey Hepburn is handled with style. Action of the Tiger (1957). Serious Charge (1959). No Time to Die (1958).
An Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders. The Above us the Waves Academy Decides. Lee Thompson Terence Young Roy Ward Baker Neil Jordan . The And Now the Screaming Starts! Angel Stanley Kubrick Basil Dean Michael Winterbottom Danny Boyle Alfred Hitchcock Ralph Thomas Michael Powell Val Guest Peter Greenaway Michael Winterbottom Val Guest Ralph Thomas John Baxter Joseph Losey Jack Gold Terence Young Lewis Gilbert Terry Gilliam Ken Loach Charles Crichton Michael Powell Lewis Gilbert Cecil Hepworth Marcel Varnel Lewis Gilbert Danny Boyle Wendy Toye Marcel Varnel Basil Dearden Mike Leigh J.British Feature Film Titles Cited 2001: A Space Odyssey 21 Days 24 Hour Party People 28 Days Later 39 Steps. The Accident Aces High Action of the Tiger Admirable Crichton. The (1935) 39 Steps. The Ae Fond Kiss Against the Wind Age of Consent Albert RN Alf’s Button Alf’s Button Afloat Alfie Alien Love Triangle All for Mary All In All Night Long All or Nothing Alligator Named Daisy. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.000 Suspects 8½ Women 9 Songs Abominable Snowman. The (1958) 49th Parallel 80.
The Bees in Paradise Before Winter Comes Before You Go Bell-Bottom George Belles of St Trinian’s. The Battle of the Sexes. The As Long as They’re Happy Ask a Policeman Assassination Bureau Limited. The Bad Blood Bad Timing Band Waggon Bank Holiday Barnacle Bill Barry Lyndon Basilisk.220 british feature film titles cited Alan Parker Derek Jarman John Halas and Joy Batchelor Cecil Hepworth Cecil Hepworth Roy Ward Baker Charles Crichton Philip Leacock Michael Winner Ralph Thomas Victor Saville Thorold Dickinson J. The Bells Go Down. The Bed Sitting Room. The Animal Farm Anna the Adventuress Annie Laurie Anniversary. Lee Thompson Lewis Gilbert Marcel Varnel Frank Launder Basil Dearden Peter Greenaway Gurinder Chadha George Pearson Bryan Forbes Angela’s Ashes Angelic Conversation. The Arsenal Stadium Mystery. Lee Thompson Marcel Varnel Basil Dearden Joseph Losey Val Guest Terence Fisher Roy Ward Baker Val Guest Basil Dean Mike Newell Mike Newell Peter Greenaway Cecil Hepworth Mike Newell Nicolas Roeg Marcel Varnel Carol Reed Charles Frend Stanley Kubrick Cecil Hepworth Guy Hamilton Michael Powell Charles Crichton Muriel Box Val Guest Richard Lester Val Guest J. The Assassination of Trotsky. The Baby on the Barge. The Awfully Big Adventure. An Baby of Macon. The Bend It Like Beckham Better ’Ole. The Assignment K Astonished Heart. The Asylum Au Pair Girls Autumn Crocus Awakening. The Better Late than Never . The Belly of an Architect. The Beauty Jungle. The Battle of Britain Battle of the River Plate. The Another Shore Appointment in London Appointment with Death Appointment with Venus Arcadians. The Beachcomber.
The Boom Bostonians. The Big Job. The Boy Who Turned Yellow. The Blue Murder at St Trinian’s Blue Scar Bluebeard’s Castle Body Said No!. The Brazil Break in the Circle Breakfast on Pluto Bridal Path. The Brassed Off Brave Don’t Cry. The Biggest Bank Robbery. The Blue Lagoon. The Boy Who Stole a Million. The Big Sleep. The Boys.british feature film titles cited Bhaji on the Beach Big Blockade. The Bride and Prejudice Brides of Dracula. The Boy Friend. The Bondman. A Gurinder Chadha Charles Frend Gerald Thomas Michael Winner Ralph Thomas Ken Russell John Schlesinger Alan Clarke John Baxter Basil Dean Roman Polanski Herbert Wilcox Ken Loach Michael Powell Basil Dearden Alfred Hitchcock Mark Herman Mike Leigh Gerald Thomas Joseph Losey David Lean Terence Fisher Derek Jarman Herbert Wilcox Frank Launder Basil Dearden Frank Launder Jill Craigie Michael Powell Val Guest Jack Gold Herbert Wilcox Joseph Losey James Ivory Ken Russell Charles Crichton Michael Powell Sidney J. The Blue Lamp. The Bridge Too Far. The Billion Dollar Brain Billy Liar Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire Birds of a Feather Birds of Prey Bitter Moon Bitter Sweet Black Jack Black Narcissus Black Sheep of Whitehall. The Boys in Blue. The Bridge on the River Kwai. Furie Val Guest Mark Herman Philip Leacock Terry Gilliam Val Guest Neil Jordan Frank Launder Gurinder Chadha Terence Fisher David Lean Richard Attenborough 221 . The Bofors Gun. The Blackmail Blame It on the Bellboy Bleak Moments Bless this House Blind Date Blithe Spirit Blood Orange Blue Blue Danube.
A Captain Boycott Captive Heart. The Career Girls Carla’s Song Carlton-Browne of the F.O. The (1951) Browning Version. The Butterfly Kiss Cage of Gold Calling Bulldog Drummond Camp on Blood Island. Carnival Carrington VC Carry On Abroad Carry On Admiral Carry On Again Doctor Carry On at Your Convenience Carry On Behind Carry On Cabby Carry On Camping Carry On Cleo Carry On Columbus Carry On Constable Carry On Cowboy Carry On Cruising Carry On Dick Carry On Doctor Carry On Don’t Lose Your Head Carry On Emmanuel Carry On England Carry On Follow That Camel Carry On Girls Carry On Henry Carry On Jack Carry On Loving Carry On Matron Carry On Nurse Carry On Regardless . The Campbell’s Kingdom Canterbury Tale. The Caravaggio Card. The (1994) Bugsy Malone Butcher Boy.222 british feature film titles cited David Lean John Boulting Lindsay Anderson Roy Boulting Anthony Asquith Mike Figgis Alan Parker Neil Jordan Michael Winterbottom Basil Dearden Victor Saville Val Guest Ralph Thomas Michael Powell Frank Launder Basil Dearden Derek Jarman Ronald Neame Mike Leigh Ken Loach Roy Boulting Herbert Wilcox Anthony Asquith Gerald Thomas Val Guest Gerald Thomas Gerald Thomas Gerald Thomas Gerald Thomas Gerald Thomas Gerald Thomas Gerald Thomas Gerald Thomas Gerald Thomas Gerald Thomas Gerald Thomas Gerald Thomas Gerald Thomas Gerald Thomas Gerald Thomas Gerald Thomas Gerald Thomas Gerald Thomas Gerald Thomas Gerald Thomas Gerald Thomas Gerald Thomas Gerald Thomas Brief Encounter Brighton Rock Britannia Hospital Brothers in Law Browning Version.
The Climbing High Clockwork Orange. The Chain of Events Chalk Garden. The Company of Wolves.british feature film titles cited Carry On Screaming Carry On Sergeant Carry On Spying Carry On Teacher Carry On Up the Jungle Carry On Up the Khyber Carve Her Name With Pride Cash Casino Royale Cast a Dark Shadow Castaway Catch Us If You Can Chain. The Chariots of Fire Charley Moon Checkpoint Chicken Run Child in the House Children Galore Chorus of Disapproval. The Champagne Champagne Charlie Chance of a Night-Time. The Cock and Bull Story. The Chaplin Charge of the Light Brigade. The Colonel March Investigates Comeback. A Clouded Yellow. A Chu Chin Chow Circus Friends City of Joy Claim. The Comrades Cone of Silence Confessions of a Window Cleaner Consider your Verdict Gerald Thomas Gerald Thomas Gerald Thomas Gerald Thomas Gerald Thomas Gerald Thomas Lewis Gilbert Zolta ´ n Korda Val Guest Lewis Gilbert Nicolas Roeg John Boorman Jack Gold Gerald Thomas Ronald Neame Alfred Hitchcock Alberto Cavalcanti Herbert Wilcox Richard Attenborough Tony Richardson Hugh Hudson Guy Hamilton Ralph Thomas Nick Park Cy Endfield Terence Fisher Michael Winner Herbert Wilcox Gerald Thomas Roland Joffe ´ Michael Winterbottom Carol Reed Stanley Kubrick Ralph Thomas Michael Winterbottom Michael Winterbottom Anthony Minghella Guy Hamilton Cy Endfield Pete Walker Bill Forsyth Cecil Hepworth Alan Parker John Baxter Neil Jordan Bill Douglas Charles Frend Val Guest Roy Boulting 223 . The Common Touch. A Code 46 Cold Mountain Colditz Story. The Comfort and Joy Comin’ Thro’ the Rye (1916 & 1923) Commitments.
224 british feature film titles cited Ralph Thomas Victor Saville Sidney Gilliat Basil Dean Michael Powell Marcel Varnel Pen Tennyson Peter Greenaway Pete Walker Michael Winner Terence Young Lewis Gilbert Anthony Asquith Anthony Asquith J. The Craze Creeping Flesh. The Cul de Sac Curse of Frankenstein. The Constant Nymph. The Criminal. The Corridor of Mirrors Cosh Boy Cottage on Dartmoor. The Thief. A Dead Cert Dead Man’s Shoes . The Day to Remember. Lee Thompson John Boorman Herbert Wilcox Freddie Francis Freddie Francis Joseph Losey John Baxter Mike Hodges Charles Frend Richard Attenborough Lewis Gilbert Zolta ´ n Korda Neil Jordan Roman Polanski Terence Fisher Nick Park Terence Fisher Joseph Losey Marcel Varnel Charles Crichton Val Guest Roman Polanski Anthony Asquith Mike Newell Val Guest Victor Saville John Schlesinger Herbert Wilcox Peter Medak Val Guest Ralph Thomas Tony Richardson Shane Meadows Conspiracy of Hearts Conspirator Constant Husband. A Cottage to Let Country Dance Country of my Skull Courtneys of Curzon Street. The Cool It Carol Cool Mikado. The Crook’s Tour Croupier Cruel Sea. The Cry Freedom Cry from the Streets. A Cry the Beloved Country Crying Game. A Day the Earth Caught Fire. The Curse of the Werewolf. The (1928 & 1933) Contraband Convict 99 Convoy Cook. The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. The Damned. His Wife and Her Lover. The Dance Band Dance Hall Dance Little Lady Dance of the Vampires Dance Pretty Lady Dance with a Stranger Dangerous Davies – The Last Detective Dark Journey Darling Dawn Day in the Death of Joe Egg.
british feature film titles cited Dead of Night Deadfall Deadlier Than the Male Deadly Bees. Marianne Dirty Pretty Things Dirty Weekend Distant Trumpet Distant Voices. Basil Dearden. A Demi-Paradise. The Dog and the Diamonds. The Doll’s House. The Doctor at Large Doctor at Sea Doctor in Clover Doctor in Distress Doctor in Love Doctor in the House Doctor in Trouble Doctor Zhivago Doctor’s Dilemma. The Dreaming 225 Alberto Cavalcanti. The Draughtsman’s Contract. The Derby Day Devil Rides Out. Charles Crichton. The Diamond Skulls Diamonds Are Forever Dictator. The Devil’s Disciple. The Doctor and the Devils. The Devils. Furie Roy Ward Baker Terence Young Stanley Kubrick Freddie Francis Terence Fisher Freddie Francis Terence Fisher John Baxter Peter Greenaway John Baxter . The Die Screaming. A Don’t Look Now Doss House Downhill Dr Blood’s Coffin Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde Dr No Dr Strangelove Dr Terror’s House of Horror Dracula Dracula Has Risen from the Grave Dracula Prince of Darkness Dragon of Pendragon Castle. The Death and the Maiden Decameron Nights Delicate Balance. Still Lives Divided Heart. The Diamond Mercenaries. Robert Hamer Bryan Forbes Ralph Thomas Freddie Francis Roman Polanski Herbert Wilcox Tony Richardson Anthony Asquith Herbert Wilcox Terence Fisher Guy Hamilton Ken Russell Val Guest Nick Broomfield Guy Hamilton Victor Saville Pete Walker Stephen Frears Michael Winner Terence Fisher Terence Davies Charles Crichton Freddie Francis Ralph Thomas Ralph Thomas Ralph Thomas Ralph Thomas Ralph Thomas Ralph Thomas Ralph Thomas David Lean Anthony Asquith Ralph Thomas Joseph Losey Nicolas Roeg John Baxter Alfred Hitchcock Sidney J.
The Escapade Escape Eureka Europeans. Furie Terence Fisher Alfred Hitchcock Michael Powell Lewis Gilbert Derek Jarman Zolta ´ n Korda Herbert Wilcox Michael Powell John Boorman Lewis Gilbert Mike Newell Neil Jordan Sidney Gilliat Anthony Minghella Tony Richardson Philip Leacock Basil Dean Nicolas Roeg James Ivory Joseph Losey Anthony Asquith Victor Saville Victor Saville Freddie Francis Guy Hamilton Alan Parker John Boorman Val Guest J. The Father Brown Fatherland . The Educating Rita Edward II Elephant Boy Elizabeth of Ladymead Elusive Pimpernel. The Fallen Idol. The Endless Night English Patient. An Evensong Evergreen Evil of Frankenstein Evil Under the Sun Evita Excaliber Expresso Bongo Eye of the Devil Eyes Wide Shut Eyewitness Face the Music Faithful Heart. The Easy Virtue Edge of the World. The Fanny by Gaslight Far from the Madding Crowd Farmer’s Wife. Lee Thompson Stanley Kubrick Muriel Box Terence Fisher Victor Saville Ken Russell Carol Reed Roy Boulting Ken Loach John and Roy Boulting Anthony Asquith John Schlesinger Alfred Hitchcock Robert Hamer Ken Loach Drowning by Numbers Drum. The Fame is the Spur Family Life Family Way. The Duke Wore Jeans. The Emerald Forest. The Entertainer. The Eve Evening with the Royal Ballet. The Fall of the House of Usher. The Emergency Call Enchanted April End of the Affair. The During One Night Earth Dies Screaming.226 british feature film titles cited Peter Greenaway Zolta ´ n Korda Gerald Thomas Sidney J.
The Flood Tide Floods of Fear Follow Me! Folly to be Wise For Better. Lee Thompson Alberto Cavalcanti Charles Crichton Guy Hamilton Ronald Neame Charles Frend Zolta ´ n Korda Sidney Gilliat John Baxter Pete Walker Zolta ´ n Korda Richard Lester Terence Fisher Mike Newell Terence Fisher Terence Fisher Terence Fisher Marcel Varnel Anthony Asquith Ken Russell Karel Reisz Roy Boulting Anthony Asquith Alfred Hitchcock Victor Saville Basil Dearden Lewis Gilbert Pete Walker Terence Young Marcel Varnel Stanley Kubrick Val Guest 227 . For Worse For Them That Trespass For Those in Peril Force Ten From Navarone Foreign Body Foreman Went to France. A French Without Tears Frenzy Friday the Thirteenth Frieda Friends Frightmare From Russia With Love Frozen Limits. The Firepower Fires Were Started First a Girl First Gentleman. The Lewis Gilbert Joseph Losey Terence Fisher Anthony Asquith Michael Winner Humphrey Jennings Victor Saville Alberto Cavalcanti Charles Crichton Roy Ward Baker Mike Hodges Terence Fisher Pete Walker John Baxter Charles Crichton Carol Reed Frank Launder J. The Fish Called Wanda. The Four Sided Triangle Four Weddings and a Funeral Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell Frankenstein Created Woman Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed Freedom of the Seas Freedom Radio French Dressing French Lieutenant’s Woman. The Full Metal Jacket Full Treatment.british feature film titles cited Ferry to Hong Kong Figures in a Landscape Final Appointment Final Test. The French Mistress. A Flame in the Streets Flash Gordon Flaw. The Four Musketeers. The Forget Me Not Fortune Is a Woman Fortune Lane Four Dimensions of Greta Four Feathers. The Flesh and Blood Show.
A Further up the Creek Galileo Gambit Games. The . Boys! Good Thief. The Gothic Grand Escapade. The Goodnight Vienna Goose Steps Out. The Golden Salamander. A Girl on Approval Girls Will Be Boys Give Us the Moon Go-Between. The Gasbags Gaslight General. The Girl Must Live. The Gandhi Garden. The (1956) Good Companions. The (1933) Good Die Young. The Good Father. The Golden Bowl. The Good Morning. Lee Thompson Victor Saville Lewis Gilbert Mike Newell Marcel Varnel Neil Jordan Herbert Wilcox Basil Dearden Terence Fisher Ken Russell John Baxter David Lean Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat Sidney Gilliat Lewis Gilbert Funeral in Berlin Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. The Girl from Maxim’s. The Great Expectations Great St Trinian’s Train Robbery.228 british feature film titles cited Guy Hamilton Richard Lester Val Guest Joseph Losey Ronald Neame Michael Winner Richard Attenborough Derek Jarman Marcel Varnel Thorold Dickinson John Boorman Basil Dearden Frank Launder Marcel Varnel Richard Lester Mike Hodges Marcel Varnel Peter Medak Marcel Varnel Freddie Francis Alexander Korda Carol Reed Carol Reed Charles Frend Marcel Varnel Val Guest Joseph Losey Sally Potter James Ivory Ronald Neame Guy Hamilton Michael Powell J. The Ghoul. The Geordie George in Civvy Street Get Back Get Carter Get Cracking Ghost in the Noonday Sun Ghost of St Michael’s. The Gold Diggers. The Gorgon. The Green for Danger Greengage Summer. The Goldfinger Gone to Earth Good Companions. The Girl in the News. The Gentle Gunman.
british feature film titles cited Gregory’s Girl Gregory’s Two Girls Grey Owl Greystoke Guinea Pig. The High Command High Hopes High Tide at Noon High Treason High Wind in Jamaica. A Haunted He Snoops to Conquer He Who Rides a Tiger Heart of a Man. The Hearts of Humanity Heat and Dust Heaven’s Above! Hell Drivers Hell Is a City Help! Helter Skelter Henry V (1944) Henry V (1989) Here Comes the Sun Hey! Hey! USA! Hi. Lee Thompson Joseph Losey Basil Dearden Laurence Olivier Tony Richardson Kenneth Branagh Philip Leacock Michael Winner Frank Launder Muriel Box Roy Boulting Richard Lester Lewis Gilbert Marcel Varnel Charles Crichton Herbert Wilcox John Baxter James Ivory John and Roy Boulting Cy Endfield Val Guest Richard Lester Ralph Thomas Laurence Olivier Kenneth Branagh John Baxter Marcel Varnel Marcel Varnel Ken Loach Cy Endfield Ralph Thomas Thorold Dickinson Mike Leigh Philip Leacock Roy Boulting Alexander Mackendrick Roy Ward Baker Victor Saville Robert Hamer Stephen Frears Lewis Gilbert 229 . The Hamlet (1948) Hamlet (1969) Hamlet (1996) Hand in Hand Hannibal Brooks Happiest Days of Your Life. Gang! Hidden Agenda Hide and Seek High Bright Sun. A Highly Dangerous Hindle Wakes His Excellency Hit. The Gumshoe Guns of Darkness Guns of Navarone. The Happy Family. The Happy Is the Bride Hard Day’s Night. The Halfway House. The HMS Defiant Bill Forsyth Bill Forsyth Richard Attenborough Hugh Hudson Roy Boulting Stephen Frears Anthony Asquith J. The Gypsy and the Gentleman.
. The House in the Square. . The House of Marney. Ill Met by Moonlight Impassive Footman. Lee Thompson Alexander Korda Lindsay Anderson Michael Powell Basil Dean Anthony Asquith Cy Endfield Lindsay Anderson Kenneth Branagh Michael Winterbottom David Lean John Schlesinger Hobson’s Choice Home Before Midnight Home to Danger Hope and Glory Horror of It All. The Hot Enough for June Hotel Hound of the Baskervilles. The . The Importance of Being Earnest.230 british feature film titles cited David Lean Pete Walker Terence Fisher John Boorman Terence Fisher Ronald Neame Ralph Thomas Mike Figgis Terence Fisher Roy Ward Baker Cecil Hepworth Pete Walker Pete Walker Pete Walker Richard Lester Bruce Robinson James Ivory Charles Crichton Charles Crichton George Pearson Freddie Francis Basil Dearden Ronald Neame Marcel Varnel Marcel Varnel Michael Powell Pete Walker Herbert Wilcox Frank Launder Marcel Varnel Michael Winterbottom Victor Saville Val Guest Michael Winner Mike Hodges John Boulting J. An If . The House of Mortal Sin House of the Long Shadows House of Whipcord How I Won the War How to Get Ahead in Advertising Howards End Hue and Cry Hunted Huntingtower Hysteria I Believe in You I Could Go on Singing I Didn’t Do It I Give My Heart I Know Where I’m Going I Like Birds I Live in Grosvenor Square I See a Dark Stranger I Thank You I Want You I Was a Spy I’ll Be Your Sweetheart I’ll Never Forget What’s ’Is Name I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead I’m All Right Jack Ice Cold in Alex Ideal Husband. The Horse’s Mouth. The Impulse In Celebration In the Bleak Midwinter In This World In Which We Serve Innocent.
The Ipcress File. The Isadora Island of Terror It Always Rains on Sunday It Happened in Paris It’s 2’ 6@ Above the Ground It’s a Wonderful World It’s Love Again It’s Trad. The Jimmy Boy Joey Boy Johnny Frenchman Johnny on the Run Jokers. The Iron Maiden.british feature film titles cited Innocent Sinners Innocents. The Joseph Andrews Josephine and Men Journey Together Jubilee Jude Judgment Deferred Juggernaut Juno and the Paycock Just William’s Luck Juvenile Liaison Juvenile Liaison 2 Kentucky Minstrels Kes Key. The Philip Leacock Jack Clayton Roy Boulting Nicolas Roeg Guy Hamilton Bryan Forbes Joseph Losey Herbert Wilcox Mike Newell Guy Hamilton Sidney J. An International Velvet Intimate Stranger. The Iron Petticoat. The Into the Blue Into the West Intruder. The Iron Duke. Dad! Jabberwocky Jacqueline Jamaica Inn Jet Storm Jigsaw Jigsaw Man. The Inquest Insignificance Inspector Calls. Furie Victor Saville Gerald Thomas Ralph Thomas Karel Reisz Terence Fisher Robert Hamer Carol Reed Ralph Thomas Val Guest Victor Saville Richard Lester Terry Gilliam Roy Ward Baker Alfred Hitchcock Cy Endfield Val Guest Terence Young John Baxter Frank Launder Charles Frend Lewis Gilbert Michael Winner Tony Richardson Roy Boulting John Boulting Derek Jarman Michael Winterbottom John Baxter Richard Lester Alfred Hitchcock Val Guest Nick Broomfield Nick Broomfield John Baxter Ken Loach Carol Reed 231 .
The Laugh It Off Laughing Annie Laughter in the Dark Lavender Hill Mob. The Legend of the Werewolf Leo the Last Lest We Forget Let George Do It! Let Him Have It Let the People Sing . The Kill Me Tomorrow Killing Fields. A Kidnappers. The Last Man to Hang?. The Lease of Life Leather Boys. The Lady Vanishes. The King’s Rhapsody Kipps Kitty Knack.232 british feature film titles cited Basil Dearden Carol Reed Philip Leacock Terence Fisher Roland Joffe ´ Robert Hamer John Schlesinger Joseph Losey Marcel Varnel Herbert Wilcox Herbert Wilcox Carol Reed Victor Saville Richard Lester Peter Medak Bryan Forbes Carol Reed Frank Launder Herbert Wilcox Alfred Hitchcock Herbert Wilcox Ken Loach Alexander Mackendrick Ken Russell Ken Loach Roy Boulting John Baxter Terence Fisher Derek Jarman Terence Fisher John Baxter Herbert Wilcox Tony Richardson Charles Crichton Charles Crichton David Lean Nick Broomfield Basil Dearden Charles Frend Sidney J. His Driver and the Driver’s Wife. The L-Shaped Room. The Ladybird. The Lair of the White Worm. Ladybird Ladykillers. Furie Sidney Gilliat Roy Ward Baker Freddie Francis John Boorman John Baxter Marcel Varnel Peter Medak John Baxter Khartoum Kid for Two Farthings. The Law and Disorder Lawrence of Arabia Leader. The Left Right and Centre Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires. The Last Load. The Last of England. The Land and Freedom Landlady. The Kind Hearts and Coronets Kind of Loving. The Krays. The League of Gentlemen. The Laburnum Grove Lady Godiva Rides Again Lady Is a Square. The Last Page. A King and Country King Arthur Was a Gentleman King’s Cup. The Lady with a Lamp.
Stock and Two Smoking Barrels Lodger. The Loves of Robert Burns. The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne.british feature film titles cited Liam Libel Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. The Little People. The Lisztomania Little Ballerina Little Damozel. The Long Arm. The Love Lottery. The Long Day Closes. The Luna de Miel Lyons in Paris. Life and Laughter Love’s Labour’s Lost Loves of Joanna Godden. The Stephen Frears Anthony Asquith Michael Powell Basil Dearden Val Guest Mike Leigh Val Guest Lewis Gilbert Herbert Wilcox Herbert Wilcox Cy Endfield Michael Powell Ken Russell Lewis Gilbert Herbert Wilcox George Pearson Mark Herman Guy Hamilton Bill Forsyth Guy Ritchie Alfred Hitchcock Stanley Kubrick Herbert Wilcox Sidney Gilliat Herbert Wilcox Tony Richardson Jack Clayton Charles Frend Terence Davies Robert Hamer Tony Richardson Basil Dean Basil Dean Ken Loach Basil Dean Mike Figgis Charles Crichton John Baxter Victor Saville George Pearson Kenneth Branagh Charles Frend Herbert Wilcox Basil Dean John Boulting Anthony Asquith Michael Powell Val Guest 233 . The Love on the Dole Love on Wheels Love. The Life for Ruth Life Is a Circus Life Is Sweet Life With the Lyons Light Up the Sky! Lilacs in the Spring Limelight Limping Man. The Look Back in Anger Look Up and Laugh Looking on the Brightside Looks and Smiles Lorna Doone Loss of Sexual Innocence. The Little Voice Live and Let Die Local Hero Lock. The Lion Has Wings. The Loyalties Lucky Jim Lucky Number. The Long Memory. The Lolita London London Belongs to Me London Melody Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.
The Men of Two Worlds Men of Yesterday Michael and Mary Michael Collins Midnight Express Midshipman Easy . The Matter of Life and Death. The Man of Violence Man Who Could Cheat Death. The Magnet. The Man in the Middle Man in the Moon Man in the Sky. The Man with the Golden Gun. The Marry Me Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Mask of Dust Masquerade Master Plan. The Men of Sherwood Forest. The Magic Box. The Man Who Cried. The Man Friday Man in the Iron Mask. The Man Who Haunted Himself. The Man Who Never Was. The Mahler Man Between.234 british feature film titles cited Roman Polanski Ralph Thomas Herbert Wilcox John Schlesinger David Lean Tony Richardson Bryan Forbes Alexander Mackendrick John Boulting Charles Frend Ken Russell Carol Reed Jack Gold Mike Newell Guy Hamilton Basil Dearden Charles Crichton Alexander Mackendrick Pete Walker Terence Fisher Sally Potter Nicolas Roeg Basil Dearden Alfred Hitchcock Ronald Neame Herbert Wilcox Guy Hamilton Alexander Mackendrick Terence Fisher Guy Hamilton Alfred Hitchcock Terence Fisher Kenneth Branagh Terence Fisher Basil Dearden Cy Endfield Michael Powell James Ivory Terence Young Herbert Wilcox Victor Saville Jack Gold Val Guest Thorold Dickinson John Baxter Victor Saville Neil Jordan Alan Parker Carol Reed Macbeth Mad About Men Madame Pompadour Madame Sousatzka Madeleine Mademoiselle Madwoman of Chaillot. The Man Who Knew Too Much. The Man in the White Suit. A Maurice Mayerling Maytime in Mayfair Me and Marlborough Medusa Touch. The Man Who Fell to Earth. The Man Who Wouldn’t Talk. The Maggie. The Mandy Mantrap Manuela Manxman.
The My Ain Folk My Beautiful Laundrette My Childhood My Learned Friend My Life so Far My Name is Joe My Teenage Daughter My Way Home 235 Ronald Neame Anthony Asquith Danny Boyle Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat Basil Dearden Neil Jordan Guy Hamilton Mike Figgis Val Guest Val Guest Roland Joffe ´ Cecil Hepworth Ronald Neame Joseph Losey Neil Jordan Herbert Wilcox Roy Ward Baker Terry Gilliam Roy Ward Baker Lewis Gilbert Karel Reisz Roy Ward Baker Mike Hodges Lynne Ramsay Anthony Asquith J. The Mirror Crack’d.british feature film titles cited Million Pound Note. Lee Thompson Alfred Hitchcock Richard Lester Val Guest Stephen Frears Kenneth Branagh Marcel Varnel Terence Fisher Herbert Wilcox Freddie Francis Alfred Hitchcock Val Guest Terence Fisher J. The Millionairess. The Millions Millions Like Us Mind Benders. Nanny. The Mist in the Valley Mister Moses Modesty Blaise Mona Lisa Money Means Nothing Monster Club. Sonny and Girly Murder Murder at the Windmill Murder by Proxy Murder Without Crime Music Hall Music Lovers. The Mumsie Mumsy. The Monty Python and the Holy Grail Moon Zero Two Moonraker Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment Morning Departure Morons from Outer Space Morvern Callar Moscow Nights Most Dangerous Man in the World. The Mr Drake’s Duck Mrs Henderson Presents Much Ado About Nothing Much Too Shy Mummy. The Miracle. The Mountain Eagle. The Mouse on the Moon. The Miss Julie Miss London Ltd Miss Pilgrim’s Progress Mission. Lee Thompson John Baxter Ken Russell Bill Douglas Stephen Frears Bill Douglas Basil Dearden Hugh Hudson Ken Loach Herbert Wilcox Bill Douglas .
The Nicholas Nickleby Night Must Fall Night of the Big Heat Night to Remember. The (1953) Neutral Port Next of Kin. Lee Thompson Ralph Thomas Ralph Thomas J. The (1941) Net. The Nearer My God to Thee Ned Kelly Negatives Nell Gwyn (1926 & 1934) Net. Rosalinda!! O-Kay for Sound Old Bones of the River Old Mac Old Mother Riley. A Night Train to Munich Nightcomers Nightmare Nine Till Six No Kidding No Love for Johnnie No Monkey Business No Time to Die No Trees in the Street No. . Detective . My Darling Daughter Nobody Runs Forever North West Frontier Not Quite Jerusalem Nothing Else Matters Nothing Venture Number Seventeen Nurse on Wheels O Lucky Man! October Man. Mr Porter! Oh! What a Lovely War Oh . . The Odette Oh. The Odd Man Out Odessa File. Furie Jack Gold Cecil Hepworth Tony Richardson Peter Medak Herbert Wilcox Marcel Varnel Anthony Asquith Marcel Varnel Thorold Dickinson Alberto Cavalcanti Karel Reisz Terence Fisher Roy Ward Baker Carol Reed Michael Winner Freddie Francis Basil Dean Gerald Thomas Ralph Thomas Marcel Varnel Terence Young J. Lee Thompson Lewis Gilbert George Pearson John Baxter Alfred Hitchcock Gerald Thomas Lindsay Anderson Roy Ward Baker Peter Medak Carol Reed Ronald Neame Herbert Wilcox Marcel Varnel Richard Attenborough Michael Powell Marcel Varnel Marcel Varnel Michael Winner John Baxter Mysterious Island Naked Naked Face. The Naked Runner.236 british feature film titles cited Cy Endfield Mike Leigh Bryan Forbes Sidney J. The National Health. The Odd Job.
The Passage Home Passage to India. A Pastor Hall Paul and Michelle Peeping Tom Peg of Old Drury Penny Paradise Penny Princess Percy Percy’s Progress Perfect Strangers Performance Peter’s Friends Phantom of the Opera. The Only When I Larf Orders to Kill Orlando Our Man in Havana Our Mother’s House Out of the Clouds Out of the Shadow Outcast of the Islands Painted Boats Pair of Briefs. A Paper Orchid Paranoiac Parting Shots Party’s Over. The Piccadilly Incident Pillow Book. The John Baxter John Baxter John Baxter Carol Reed David Lean Roman Polanski Lewis Gilbert Ralph Thomas Shane Meadows Terence Young Michael Powell Roy Ward Baker Sidney Gilliat Herbert Wilcox Basil Dearden Anthony Asquith Sally Potter Carol Reed Jack Clayton Basil Dearden Michael Winner Carol Reed 237 Charles Crichton Ralph Thomas Roy Ward Baker Freddie Francis Michael Winner Guy Hamilton J. The Pianist. A Passionate Friends. The Passionate Stranger. The Passage. Lee Thompson Roy Ward Baker David Lean David Lean Muriel Box Roy Boulting Lewis Gilbert Michael Powell Herbert Wilcox Carol Reed Val Guest Ralph Thomas Ralph Thomas Alexander Korda Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg Kenneth Branagh Terence Fisher Roman Polanski Herbert Wilcox Peter Greenaway . The Only Two Can Play Only Way.british feature film titles cited Old Mother Riley in Business Old Mother Riley in Society Old Mother Riley’s Ghosts Oliver! Oliver Twist (1948) Oliver Twist (2005) Once a Sinner Once Upon a Dream Once Upon a Time in the Midlands One Night With You One of Our Aircraft Is Missing One That Got Away.
The Pure Hell of St Trinian’s. The Ramsbottom Rides Again Ratcatcher . The Queen’s Guard. The Rainbow Jacket. The Public Nuisance No. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. The Place to Go. The Private Life of Henry VIII. The Pool of London Poor Cow Portrait from Life Prayer for the Dying. The Queen of Spades Queen’s Affair. A Prick up Your Ears Prime Minister. The Prudence and the Pill Psychopath. The Rainbow. 1 Pulp Pumpkin Eater. The Private Life of Don Juan. The Raining Stones Raising a Riot Raising the Wind Rake’s Progress. The Prince and the Showgirl. The Quest for Love Quiet Wedding Raging Moon.238 british feature film titles cited Alan Parker Robert Hamer Muriel Box Basil Dearden Michael Winner Gerald Thomas Alfred Hitchcock Basil Dearden Ken Loach Terence Fisher Mike Hodges Stephen Frears Thorold Dickinson Ronald Neame Laurence Olivier Alexander Korda Alexander Korda John Boulting Peter Greenaway Pen Tennyson Ronald Neame Freddie Francis Marcel Varnel Mike Hodges Jack Clayton Frank Launder Mark Herman Anthony Asquith James Ivory Roy Ward Baker Val Guest Val Guest Stephen Frears Thorold Dickinson Herbert Wilcox Michael Powell Ralph Thomas Anthony Asquith Bryan Forbes Ken Russell Basil Dearden Ken Loach Wendy Toye Gerald Thomas Sidney Gilliat John Baxter Lynne Ramsay Pink Floyd The Wall Pink String and Sealing Wax Piper’s Tune. A Play It Cool Please Turn Over Pleasure Garden. The Private’s Progress Prospero’s Books Proud Valley. The Quatermass II Queen. The Purely Belter Pygmalion Quartet Quatermass and the Pit Quatermass Experiment.
The Rembrandt Repulsion Return from the Ashes Return of the Musketeers. Sue and Bob Too Robin and Marion Romantic Englishwoman. The Run for Your Money. The Ringer. A Runaway Bus. The Ryan’s Daughter Sabotage Safari Sailor From Gibraltar. The Revenge of the Blood Beast Revolution Revolver Rich and Strange Richard III Riff-Raff Ring. A Reckoning. The Runaway Princess. The Room at the Top Room for Romeo Brass.british feature film titles cited Rattle of a Simple Man Reach for Glory Reach for the Sky Real Bloke. The Remains of the Day. A Rotten to the Core Royal Cavalcade Royal Flash Ruddigore Ruling Class. The Running Man. The Return of the Vikings Reveille Revenge of Frankenstein. The Red Beret. The Salome´’s Last Dance Sammy and Rosie Get Laid Sammy Going South San Demetrio London Muriel Box Philip Leacock Lewis Gilbert John Baxter Jack Gold Terence Young Michael Powell James Ivory Alexander Korda Roman Polanski J. The Ripe Earth Rita. A Room With a View. The Red Shoes. Lee Thompson Richard Lester Charles Frend George Pearson Terence Fisher Michael Reeves Hugh Hudson Guy Ritchie Alfred Hitchcock Laurence Olivier Ken Loach Alfred Hitchcock Guy Hamilton Roy Boulting Alan Clarke Richard Lester Joseph Losey Jack Clayton Shane Meadows James Ivory John Boulting Marcel Varnel Richard Lester John Halas and Joy Batchelor Peter Medak Charles Frend Val Guest Anthony Asquith Carol Reed David Lean Alfred Hitchcock Terence Young Tony Richardson Jack Gold Ken Russell Stephen Frears Alexander Mackendrick Charles Frend 239 . The Sailor’s Return.
The Scars of Dracula Schizo School for Scoundrels School for Sex Scott of the Antarctic Scrooge Scum Sea Fury Sea Shall Not Have Them. The Shadowlands Shallow Grave Sheba Shillingbury Blowers. The Scarlet Thread. The Service for Ladies Seven Days to Noon Seven Nights in Japan Seventh Dawn.240 british feature film titles cited Zolta ´ n Korda Cy Endfield Basil Dearden Basil Dearden Karel Reisz Ken Russell John Baxter Robert Hamer Lewis Gilbert Roy Ward Baker Pete Walker Robert Hamer Pete Walker Charles Frend Ronald Neame Alan Clarke Cy Endfield Lewis Gilbert John and Roy Boulting Bryan Forbes Derek Jarman John Baxter Gerald Thomas Cy Endfield Alfred Hitchcock Joseph Losey John Baxter Basil Dearden Thorold Dickinson Mike Leigh Roy Boulting Terence Young Joseph Losey Alexander Korda John and Roy Boulting Lewis Gilbert Lewis Gilbert Richard Attenborough Danny Boyle Cecil Hepworth Val Guest Stanley Kubrick Basil Dearden John Baxter Lewis Gilbert Michael Winner Anthony Asquith Basil Dean Humphrey Jennings Sanders of the River Sands of the Kalahari Sapphire Saraband for Dead Lovers Saturday Night and Sunday Morning Savage Messiah Say it with Flowers Scapegoat. The Silent Village . The Secret Agent Secret Ceremony Secret Journey Secret Partner. The Secret. The Seagulls over Sorrento Se´ance on a Wet Afternoon Sebastiane Second Mate. The Second Victory. The Secret People Secrets and Lies Seeing Stars Serious Charge Servant. The Ship that Died of Shame. The Shipbuilders Shirley Valentine Shoot to Kill Shooting Stars Show Goes On. The Shining.
The Small Man. The Spider and the Fly. The State Secret Steaming Stepping Toes Stolen Assignment Stolen Face Storm in a Teacup Muriel Box Basil Dean Roy Ward Baker Roy Boulting Lewis Gilbert Herbert Wilcox Alfred Hitchcock Freddie Francis Charles Frend Joseph Losey Bryan Forbes Michael Powell John Baxter Basil Dearden Sidney J. The Some Girls Do Some Like it Cool Son of Dracula Song of the Plough Song of the Road Sorcerers. The Sport of Kings. The Spring in Park Lane Spy in Black. The Skull. The Snatch So Long at the Fair Soft Beds. Hard Battles Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries. The Smallest Show on Earth. The Snapper. The Slipper and the Rose. The Small Back Room. The Sound Barrier. The Square Ring. The Sleeping Tiger. The Soursweet South American George South Riding Southern Love Spaceways Spanish Gardener. A Solitary Child. The Single-Handed Sink the Bismarck! Sixty Glorious Years Skin Game. Furie Stephen Frears Guy Ritchie Terence Fisher Roy Boulting James Ivory Gerald Thomas Ralph Thomas Michael Winner Freddie Francis John Baxter John Baxter Michael Reeves David Lean Mike Newell Marcel Varnel Victor Saville Herbert Wilcox Terence Fisher Philip Leacock Robert Hamer Victor Saville Herbert Wilcox Michael Powell Lewis Gilbert Basil Dearden George Pearson Alfred Hitchcock Carol Reed Sidney Gilliat Joseph Losey John Baxter Terence Fisher Terence Fisher Victor Saville 241 .british feature film titles cited Simon and Laura Sing As We Go! Singer Not the Song. The Spy Who Loved Me. The Sky Bike. The Squibs Stage Fright Stars Look Down. The Snake Woman.
242 british feature film titles cited Terence Young/Zolta ´ n Korda Mike Figgis Sidney Gilliat Terence Fisher Terence Fisher Muriel Box Pete Walker George Pearson Muriel Box David Lean John Schlesinger Victor Saville James Ivory John and Roy Boulting Ken Loach Guy Ritchie Terence Fisher Michael Winner Ronald Neame Ralph Thomas Freddie Francis Michael Powell Freddie Francis Carol Reed John Baxter Terence Young Philip Leacock Sally Potter Cecil Hepworth Tony Richardson Wendy Toye Anthony Asquith Derek Jarman Terence Davies Victor Saville Roman Polanski Terence Young Bill Forsyth Gerald Thomas John Baxter Pen Tennyson Lewis Gilbert Roy Boulting Herbert Wilcox Freddie Francis Basil Dearden Val Guest Herbert Wilcox Storm Over the Nile Stormy Monday Story of Gilbert and Sullivan. The Tell England Tempest. The Stranger Came Home. A Subway in the Sky Summer Madness Sunday Bloody Sunday Sunshine Susie Surviving Picasso Suspect Sweet Sixteen Swept Away Sword of Sherwood Forest System. The Street Corner Strip Poker Study in Scarlet. The Terence Davies Trilogy. The Tales that Witness Madness Talk of the Devil Talking Feet Tall Headlines Tamahine Tango Lesson. A Teckman Mystery. A Tales from the Crypt Tales of Hoffman. The Tesha Tess That Lady That Sinking Feeling That’s Carry On Theatre Royal There Ain’t No Justice There Is Another Sun There’s a Girl in My Soup These Dangerous Years They Came from Beyond Space They Came to a City They Can’t Hang Me They Flew Alone . The Stranglers of Bombay. The Tansy Taste of Honey. The Take My Life Tale of Two Cities.
Lee Thompson Roy Ward Baker Terry Gilliam Lewis Gilbert Gerald Thomas Joseph Losey Herbert Wilcox Charles Crichton Muriel Box Robert Hamer Tony Richardson Ken Russell Terence Young Muriel Box Val Guest Mike Leigh Freddie Francis Guy Hamilton Nicolas Roeg Nick Broomfield Basil Dearden. The Three Musketeers. Charles Crichton Danny Boyle Freddie Francis Ralph Thomas Cecil Hepworth Herbert Wilcox Terence Young Freddie Francis Herbert Wilcox 243 . Furie Laurence Olivier Roy Boulting Terence Young Pete Walker J.british feature film titles cited They Made me a Fugitive They Were Not Divided They’re a Weird Mob Thief of Bagdad. The Three on a Spree Three Sisters Thunder Rock Thunderball Tiffany Jones Tiger Bay Tiger in the Smoke Time Bandits Time Gentleman Please! Time Lock Time Without Pity Tiptoes Titfield Thunderbolt. The Third Man. The To Dorothy a Son To Paris with Love Tom Jones Tommy Too Hot to Handle Too Young to Love Toomorrow Topsy-Turvy Torture Garden Touch of Larceny. A Track 29 Tracking Down Maggie Train of Events Trainspotting Traitor’s Gate Traveller’s Joy Trelawney of the Wells Trent’s Last Case Triple Cross Trog Trouble in the Glen Alberto Cavalcanti Terence Young Michael Powell Michael Powell Carol Reed Charles Crichton David Lean Marcel Varnel Muriel Box Lindsay Anderson Herbert Wilcox John Baxter Wendy Toye Herbert Wilcox Richard Lester Sidney J. The Third Secret. The This Happy Breed This Man Is Mine This Other Eden This Sporting Life This’ll Make you Whistle Three Bags Full Three Cases of Murder Three Maxims.
The Vatel Vault of Horror Venetian Bird Vengeance Vera Drake Vicious Circle. The Truly. The Tulse Luper Suitcases. Deeply Trunk Crime Truth About Women. The W Plan. Madly. The Valley of Eagles Vampire Happening Vampire Lovers. The . The Tunes of Glory Turned Out Nice Again Twenty-Four Hours of a Woman’s Life TwentyFourSeven Twice Round the Daffodils Twisted Nerve Two and Two Make Six Two Deaths Two Faces of Dr Jekyll. One Dead Two Thousand Women Ultus: The Man from the Dead Uncensored Under Capricorn Underground Unfinished Symphony Universal Soldier Up the Creek Upstairs and Downstairs Valentino Valiant. The Walkabout Waltzes from Vienna War Lover. The Two Left Feet Two Living. The Van. The Victim Victoria the Great Violent Playground VIPs.244 british feature film titles cited Wendy Toye Carol Reed Anthony Minghella Roy Boulting Muriel Box Peter Greenaway Ronald Neame Marcel Varnel Victor Saville Shane Meadows Gerald Thomas Roy Boulting Freddie Francis Nicolas Roeg Terence Fisher Roy Ward Baker Anthony Asquith Frank Launder George Pearson Anthony Asquith Alfred Hitchcock Anthony Asquith Anthony Asquith Cy Endfield Val Guest Ralph Thomas Ken Russell Roy Ward Baker Terence Young Freddie Francis Roy Ward Baker Stephen Frears Roland Joffe ´ Roy Ward Baker Ralph Thomas Freddie Francis Mike Leigh Gerald Thomas Basil Dearden Herbert Wilcox Basil Dearden Anthony Asquith Victor Saville Nicolas Roeg Alfred Hitchcock Philip Leacock True as a Turtle True Glory.
The Woman in White. The Who? Who Done It? Who’s Your Lady Friend? Whom the God’s Love Wicked Lady. The Witchfinder General Withnail and I Wittgenstein Woman Hater Woman in a Dressing Gown Woman in Question. The We Dive at Dawn We Joined the Navy We’ll Smile Again Weak and the Wicked. A Watch your Stern Waterloo Road Way Ahead. The Weaker Sex. The Wild Heather Wildcats of St. The Windom’s Way Wings of Danger Winslow Boy. The William Comes to Town Wind Cannot Read. The Way to the Stars. The Witches. Lee Thompson Roy Ward Baker Val Guest Alexander Korda Michael Winterbottom Alberto Cavalcanti Michael Winner John Baxter Val Guest John Baxter Val Guest Marcel Varnel Anthony Asquith Alexander Mackendrick Bryan Forbes Bryan Forbes James Ivory Jack Gold Basil Dearden Carol Reed Basil Dean Michael Winner Ralph Thomas Cecil Hepworth Frank Launder Val Guest Ralph Thomas Ronald Neame Terence Fisher Anthony Asquith Nicolas Roeg Michael Reeves Bruce Robinson Derek Jarman Terence Young J. The Weapon. Trinian’s. The Wedding Rehearsal Welcome to Sarajevo Went the Day Well? West 11 What Would You Do. Chums? When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth When You Come Home Where the Spies are ‘Where’s That Fire?’ While the Sun Shines Whiskey Galore! Whisperers. The Woman of Straw Woman to Woman Derek Jarman Victor Saville Gerald Thomas Sidney Gilliat Carol Reed Anthony Asquith Anthony Asquith Wendy Toye John Baxter J. The Whistle Down the Wind White Countess. The Wild and the Willing.british feature film titles cited War Requiem Warm Corner. Lee Thompson Anthony Asquith Herbert Wilcox Basil Dearden Victor Saville 245 .
The Young Soul Rebels Young Winston Zarak Zardoz Zed and Two Noughts.246 british feature film titles cited Ken Russell Sidney J. The Young Ones. The Yanks Yellow Balloon. Furie Herbert Wilcox Michael Winterbottom Bryan Forbes John Schlesinger J. The Yes Yes Mr Brown Yesterday’s Enemy Yield to the Night You Must be Joking! You Only Live Twice Young and Innocent Young Lovers. Furie Issac Julien Richard Attenborough Terence Young John Boorman Peter Greenaway Cy Endfield Women in Love Wonderful Life Wonderful Things Wonderland Wrong Box. The Yellow Canary Yellow Rolls-Royce. Lee Thompson Michael Winner Lewis Gilbert Alfred Hitchcock Anthony Asquith Carol Reed Sidney J. Lee Thompson Herbert Wilcox Anthony Asquith Sally Potter Herbert Wilcox Val Guest J. The Young Mr Pitt. A Zulu .
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